Maldives Realising Its Mistake? Island Nation Urges India For Tourist Support Amid Crisis | India News

New Delhi: Amid strained relations between India and the Maldives, the number of Indian tourists visiting the archipelago nation has decreased. Eyeing the waning state of the Maldives’ tourism-driven economy, the country’s tourism minister, Ibrahim Faisal, on Monday urged Indians to contribute as the nation is heavily reliant on tourism.  

He highlighted the historical bilateral ties with India. “We have a history. Our newly elected government also wants to work together (with India). We always promote peace and a friendly environment. Our people and the government will give a warm welcome to Indian arrivals. As the tourism minister, I want to tell Indians to please be a part of Maldives’ tourism. Our economy depends on tourism,” Faisal said in an interview with PTI.  

Decline In Indian Tourist 

The number of tourist arrivals from India dropped by 42% in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year, as per a report published on on Monday.  

In the beginning of this year, India was the top tourist market for the Maldives. However, this number is declining as the year progresses. As per the report, India dipped to sixth place from the top spot.  

As per the Tourism Ministry data cited by PTI, the Maldives welcomed 43,991 tourists from India as of May 4. In the corresponding period last year, there were 73,785 arrivals, whereas this year the figure stands at 42,638.  

India-Maldives Ties After Muizzu  

The decrease in Indian tourists visiting the Maldives is said to be because of the strained relationship between India and the Maldives, particularly since President Mohamed Muizzu took office in November last year.  

President Muizzu, who is seen as ‘pro-China’, shortly after becoming president withdrew 88 Indian military personnel stationed at three aviation bases, which were gifts from India.  

He has accused India of interfering in Maldivian affairs and campaigned with an “India Out” agenda during the elections in September.  

Social Media Fallout  

The Maldives faced a major backlash on social media following some derogatory remarks from three Maldives officials about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The remarks were directed at PM Modi’s post on ‘X’ about his recent visit to the Lakshadweep Islands. He shared photos and videos of the beachside on January 6.  

In response, many Indians, including celebrities, cancelled their bookings and abandoned their intentions to travel to the Maldives. Tourism arrival data illustrated India’s descent from the top-ranking visitor nation to sixth place after January.

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