President of the Maldives Abdulla Gayoom has suspended the development of a luxury surf resort in the Thanburudhoo Island (Kaafu Atoll), home to the world-class surf spots of Sultans and Honkeys.
The Tourism Ministry cancelled the lease agreement with Telos Investment. The authorities informed that the private investors didn't develop the resort within the agreed duration.
"This will allow local surfers, surfers from around the world and organizers of surf competition to use the island in the best possible way," notes the Ministry of Tourism.
Abdulla Gayoom wants Thanburudhoo Island to become a "surf heritage site." It is owned by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Welfare Company, but it had been leased to Telos in August 2012.
The Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) fought the decision to build a boutique surf resort in Thanburudhoo Island. Local surfers stood up against surf exclusivity and surf tour operators but they still believe that the government had made a tactical move.
"It's great that we’ve got Thamburudhoo back, but I think is a compensation to divert us from talking about the government taking six surf points for one project, calling it 'development,'" Ahmed Fauzan, president of MSA, told The Maldives Independent.
The Maldives government is planning the construction of a bridge in Malé’s Raalhugandu, and the MSA has no doubt it will destroy the atoll's best surf breaks where 90 percent of Maldivian surfers ride their share of waves.
"For the last 20 years, I walk out of my home every day, go out to Raalhugandu and surf. This is what I love doing, just like 150 other surfers in Malé Atoll. What are we supposed to do now?" Karo asked.