Hit by Boycott, Maldives Reaches Out to India to Boost Tourism

Maldives to roll out initiatives to bring back tourists from India. The island nation has been hit hard by the "Boycott Maldives" campaign which was unleashed in January.

By Sam
New Update

Photo Courtesy: Visit Maldives

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The numbers tell the story. Till December last year, the maximum tourists to Maldives were from India. in January, the game changed. India slipped to No: 6 and Maldives was hit hard. Not only were Indians leading the pack in visiting Maldives, but they were the highest spenders as well. The maldives tourism industry was hit hard and hotels were going empty.

The tourism industry of Maldives, led by the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) has now drawn up an aggressive plan to resore tourism normalcy with India.

Surfing in Maldives

Earlier thie week, a delegation led by the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators met Munu Mahawar, the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives to explore areas of collboration for tourism promotion. The association has expressed its willingness to collaborate closely with the Indian High Commission to bolster tourism initiatives. A statemen by the association said that plans are underway to launch a comprehensive roadshow across key cities in India and to facilitate Bollywood stars, influencers and media familiarisation trips to the Maldives in the forthcoming months. 

The sharp fall and boycott by Indian tourists began in January this year, when three ministers from Maldives, who have since been suspended, made derogatory remarks against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the famous pitch to push Lakshadweep as a tourist destination. Thigs went south in hurs after these negative comments and "BoycottMaldives" started trending on social media.

The result was shocking for Maldives. From being the top tourist community visiting Maldives, the numbers dropped and Indians slipped to the fifth position by the end of January. In any given year, prior to this controversy, around 2 lakh Indians visit Maldives every year. Tourists from India, Russia and China make up for the top 3 tourist groups visiting Maldives every year, where over 17 lakh tourists take soak up the sun and sand.  

Data for the fist week for April shows that tourists from India to Maldives are now occupying the 6th position. In numbers, this translates into 36,840 tourists, a massive drop compared with similar months in earlier years.


The trade body of Maldives in its statement has said that "India remains a vital market" for Maldivian tourism and it looks forward to partnering with prominent travel associations and industry stakeholders across India to further promote the island nation as a premier travel destination. "The Association is confident with the support from the industry and the Government agencies, Maldives can regain the current decline in Indian tourists," it said.  

MATATO said the middle class in India is anticipated to spend a substantial $144 billion annually on international travel by the year 2030. Clearly, the island country wants its fair share of the pie from this.

The association quoted industry reports which have forecast a robust expansion in Indian outbound travel, which is expected to grow at a healthy 11.2 per cent through 2032.

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