The Maldives’ main airport is preparing to receive a record number of private jets as foreign tycoons head for the archipelago to celebrate the New Year.
The peak tourism season in the Maldives is the duration of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, usually between November and April. The flood of visitors that arrive in the island nation for the Christmas and New Year vacations often boast a number of magnates and celebrities.
Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL)’s Associate General Manager Hassan Areef told Mihaaru on Tuesday that a record number of 53 private jets are expected to land in Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) next Sunday which marks the first day of 2017.
INIA had previously faced difficulties over lack of sufficient area to accommodate all the private jets that arrive in time for the New Year, which had forced jets to be diverted to some domestic airports and neighbouring countries for parking. However, the recently developed apron at the northern end of the airport has increased parking accommodation for private jets.
Hassan disclosed that the airport’s main apron will also be used for parking in addition to the northern apron this year, thus marking 2016 as the year with a record number of jets parked in INIA simultaneously.
“With more jets, the revenue of the airport also increases with parking charges and other fees,” noted Hassan.
The entourage of moguls and celebrities expected to spend the New Year in the Maldives this year includes former English football superstar David Beckham and his wife Victoria Beckham, who with their children will celebrate New Year’s Eve with a glamorous party in Amilla Fushi Resort in Baa atoll. Guests at the exclusive party include two of David Beckham’s closest friends, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and his wife Tana Ramsay, and Victoria Beckham’s former Spice Girls band mate, Melanie C, who is to perform at the party.
While resorts commonly reach full occupancy these months as tourists spend Christmas and New Year vacations in the archipelago, the resorts have not been fully booked during this season so far. The occupancy rates of resorts are lower this year compared to last year. However, some officials of the industry proclaimed that the lull in tourism, which had lasted the majority of this year, seem to have finally lifted and that the industry is recovering.