The last few years has seen an incredible push from the government and private sector to see a budget tourism market develop in the Maldives.

Up until now, Maldives has been the exclusive domain for the rich and famous (except for the occasional guest house scattered here and there). Staying in the Maldives was just simply too expensive.

2009 saw the most critical piece of the puzzle fall in to place. The government gazetted a mid-market tourism regulations – called “Guest House Regulations”, that would eventually set the ball rolling for one island in particular – Maafushi Island, located in South Male’ Atoll, just 35 minutes away from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport by speedboat.

Locals have been dreaming since the dawn of Maldives luxury tourism to share a piece of the pie. Now that the regulations are in place the market was wide open for much more smaller investors to come in to the picture.

For an investor to get into the local island tourism, or more specifically Maafushi island, one is able to come in with what I call an “entry level investment” in the Maldives tourism industry – not more than a million Rufiyaa. Of cause one is free to invest any amount they want, but with a million Rifiyaa in hand, one can carve their place comfortably in the Maldives tourism industry through investing in Maafushi island. But at the rate Maafushi is developing this would not be the case for long.

Under the new regulations, White Shell Beach Inn was the very first property developed and opened in the Maldives or Maafushi for that matter. They opened in 2009.

But White Shell saw many obstacles in its path to its current situation. Mainly this was to do with marketing and branding (I will write more on this subject in a future blog posts). Three years later,White Shell is going for a second round of investment with its new multi-story hotel currently under construction in Maafushi.

So what changed in those three years for White Shell, Maafushi Island or other investors? Big online booking engines like and was the game changer.

By late 2011, 3 of world biggest online booking engines were keeping Maafushi Island occupancy at an average of 60% to 70% inspiring more investors to invest heavily in Maafushi Island.

While the price of real estate has gone up in the last few years in Maafushi Island, it is still very much up for grabs. Male’ big fish investors has yet to make a move into the island. I doubt it is because they don’t know about our little gem here in Maafushi, but they are waiting and seeing how the picture will pan out in the future.

Maafushi islands big test would come at the peak season this year, when the island gets ready to cater for almost 300 tourists by year end.

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