Post India-Maldives diplomatic spat, India no longer Maldives’ top tourist market

In the archipelago of the Maldives, the tourism landscape witnessed a significant transformation in January 2024. This shift was marked by a notable decline in the number of Indian visitors, traditionally one of the country’s largest tourist demographics.

The present scenario finds its roots in the recent diplomatic altercation ignited by derogatory comments made by Maldivian ministers against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The dispute unfolded following Prime Minister Modi’s sharing of enchanting images showcasing the natural splendour of Lakshadweep, a Union Territory of India, during his visit in early January.

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Post the social media remarks of the Maldivian ministers, a social media storm ensued, which resulted in Indians boycotting Maldives, travel to Maldives in particular. The online debate led to a diplomatic standoff, the repercussions of which was clearly seen in the lesser number of Indian arrivals to the Maldives.

If reports are to go by, only 13,989 Indian tourists visited the archipelago in January, constituting a mere 8% of total arrivals. This placed India at the fifth position among nations sending tourists to the Maldives for the month. Russia emerged as the leading contributor to Maldives’ tourist influx in January 2024, with 18,561 Russian visitors. Italy, China, and the UK followed closely, securing the second, third, and fourth positions respectively.

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Post India-Maldives diplomatic spat, India no longer Maldives’ top tourist market

India has historically been a significant source of tourism for the Maldives. In December 2023, for instance, India occupied the second spot with 161,751 tourists. However, the fallout from the diplomatic row has evidently impacted travel patterns, with Indian tourist arrivals dwindling in January.

In India, the attention was brought to Lakshadweep and its captivating natural beauty and untapped potential. Blessed with pristine beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and a rich marine ecosystem, Lakshadweep offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent sharing of breathtaking images showcasing Lakshadweep’s splendour has catapulted the archipelago into the spotlight, igniting curiosity and interest among travellers.

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With its tranquil ambiance and eco-friendly tourism initiatives, Lakshadweep presents a unique opportunity for sustainable tourism development. As travellers seek out new and off-the-beaten-path destinations, Lakshadweep stands poised to emerge as the next sought-after paradise for discerning adventurers seeking unspoiled natural beauty and immersive cultural experiences.

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