Maldives seeks more Chinese tourists amid tensions with India

Muizzu is presently in China on his five-day visit

Maldives India tourism row Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu | AP

Amid the ongoing India-Maldives tensions, President Mohamed Muizzu on Tuesday appealed to China to send more tourists to his country. The Maldives tourism industry suffered a setback after derogatory remarks were made by his ministers against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Muizzu is presently in China on his five-day visit.

"China remains one of our closest allies and development partners," said Muizzu during his address to the Maldives Business Forum in Fujian Province.

Muizzu also praised China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project launched by President Xi Jinping. He termed China as its "closest" ally. 

"China was our (Maldives') number one market pre-Covid, and it is my request that we intensify efforts for China to regain this position," according to a readout posted on his official website.

The two countries signed a USD 50 million project to develop an integrated tourism zone in the Indian Ocean island, reported Maldivian media.

Considered as a pro-China leader, Muizzu told the Forum that his administration's focus in on diversifying the country's economic base and ensuring economic security while continuing to strengthen its tourism industry, reported PTI.

Muizzu also sought investments from Chinese companies for 11 projects at the Maldives Investment Forum.

A massive row had erupted deepening the India-Maldives tensions after some ministers made derogatory remarks against Modi following his visit to Lakshadweep.

Modi urged Indians to visit Lakshadweep and boost its tourism. He also shared pictures of the island nation during his stay.

Though Maldives took action against the three ministers, by suspending them, their tourism industry suffered a huge setback. The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) strongly condemned the derogatory comments.

According to data, highest number of tourists ( 2,09,198) to visit Maldives were from India. While Russia and China held the second and the third place respectively.


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