The Ministry of Economic Development (MED) has simplified the process of registering a foreign investment company for tourism purposes.
Previously, if a foreign investor sought to register a company in the Maldives in order to own or operate a tourism property (whether an island, land or lagoon), the investor was required to show evidence of a right to acquire an existing leasehold, sub-leasehold or management of a tourist property, or an equity interest in a company holding leasehold, sub-leasehold or management rights. Satisfying this element typically required a letter from the Ministry of Tourism, a completed sale and purchase agreement, or at least an expression of interest in the purchase of the property.
However, to better facilitate the flow of business in the tourism industry, the MED has now waived this requirement altogether.
Under this newly instituted practice, a company may be registered by an investor without having confirmed its interest in acquiring rights over a specific property. The investor receives an initial period of six months post-registration to complete the acquisition of the property under the name of that company. The initial period may be extended where there are specific circumstances acceptable to the MED.
This change directly benefits three types of investors:
- The new investor who is looking at entering the Maldives market to acquire an interest or property in the Maldives;
- The existing investor who is looking at registering a new company to acquire a different property either independent of the existing property or current partners; and
- The existing investor who may want to diversify into other interests within the same space, sector or industry.