The Maldives, a paradise of turquoise waters and white sand, is witnessing a surprising shift in its tourist landscape. Once the country’s third-largest source of tourism, India has plummeted to fifth place within just three weeks, according to official data.
This dramatic decline comes amidst simmering diplomatic tensions between India and the Maldives. The trigger? Derogatory remarks made by some Maldivian ministers towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Lakshadweep, another Indian archipelago.
Historically, Indian tourists have been a cornerstone of the Maldivian economy, accounting for almost 11% of visitors in 2023. However, the Lakshadweep visit and subsequent controversial comments sparked a nationwide “Boycott Maldives” movement in India, leading to a sharp drop in bookings.
This shift highlights the delicate balance between tourism and international relations. What began as a political spat has quickly translated into a tangible impact on the Maldivian tourism industry. As the fallout continues, it remains to be seen whether the relationship between the two nations can be salvaged, and if so, how long it will take for Indian tourists to return to the pristine shores of the Maldives.