Tourism boycott may hit Maldives hard; Indians top visitors to island nation

According to data, 2,09,198 tourists visited from India

Maldives tourism Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve, Maldives | Maldives Tourism Ministry

Maldives is one of the world’s leading destinations for sun, surf, and sustainability. Indian tourists were the most frequent visitors to the Maldives until December 2023.

According to the data from Maldives tourism ministry, 2,09,198 tourists visited from India. While 2,09,146 and 1,87,118 tourists visited from Russia and China respectively.

However, things did not start off well for Maldives in 2024. The Maldives deputy cabinet ministers Mariyam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef, and Mahzoom Majid made derogatory remarks against PM Modi from his visit to Lakshadweep promoting it as a tourism attraction to Indians.

The remarks have cost the Island nation as the tour operators in India said that there “no new enquiries by people” to visit the country. There has been a visible impact in the booking to Maldives with many Indians cancelling their trip as well.

Though many Indians claim to have cancelled their planned holidays, Deep Karla, the creator of MakeMyTrip, said that "there has been no mass cancellation of planned holidays by Indians to the island nation."

MakeMyTrip also announced an increase in on-platform searches for Lakshadweep by 3,400% ever since PM Modi visited the island on January 2. With such a large search response and increased interest in Indian beaches, MakeMyTrip launched the 'Beaches of India' campaign, which provides a variety of deals and discounts to encourage travellers to visit beaches around the nation.

Amid the row, the hashtag #BoycottMaldives gathered attention on social media, with the Indian Association of Tour Operators expecting a greater impact within the next 20-25 days.

“Suddenly, there has been no inquiry on Maldives. There are sudden drops. Those who have made payments will not cancel them. We are expecting that people will not book trips to the Maldives,” Rajiv Mehra, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, said.

The India’s unsettling reaction to the remarks made by the Maldives' ministers, as well as the impact of the boycott, have had an unforeseen influence on Maldives tourism. The Maldives government dismissed the three ministers on Sunday for making insulting statements against PM Modi.

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