Impact of Indian Tourists Staying Away on Maldives Tourism

The Maldives, known for its stunning beaches and popular atolls, has long been a favorite destination for Indian tourists. However, recent diplomatic tensions between India and the Maldives have significantly affected tourist numbers from India, causing notable repercussions for the island nation’s tourism sector.

Decline in Indian Tourists: Indian tourists once formed the largest group of visitors to the Maldives. However, a diplomatic row caused by derogatory remarks from a Maldivian minister about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led to a sharp decline in Indian tourist arrivals. Official data shows a 42.2% drop in the number of Indian tourists in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period the previous year.

Monthly Declines:

January 2024: Only 15,003 Indian tourists visited the Maldives, down from 18,612 in January 2023, marking a 19.4% decrease.

February 2024: The number of Indian visitors dropped to 11,522 from 19,497 in February 2023, a 40.9% decline.

March 2024: There was a 54% drop in tourist numbers.

April 2024: The decrease reached 55.6%.

As a result, India fell to the sixth position in the Maldives’ tourism market, overtaken by China, Russia, England, Italy, and Germany.

Efforts to Rejuvenate Tourism: In response to the decline, the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) launched roadshows in major Indian cities to attract tourists back. Despite these efforts, the drop in Indian tourists significantly impacted the Maldives’ tourism market share.

Rise of the Chinese Market: While Indian tourist numbers fell, Chinese tourists started visiting the Maldives in large numbers. In March 2024, the Maldives received 13,608 Chinese tourists, a 78.6% increase compared to March 2023. Consequently, China has become the Maldives’ largest tourism market, followed by Russia, the UK, Italy, and Germany.

Diplomatic Tensions: The diplomatic crisis escalated when Mohamed Muizzu became the president of the Maldives in November 2023. His pro-China stance and request for India to withdraw its military personnel from the Maldives strained relations further. This geopolitical shift has reshaped the Maldives’ tourism landscape, with Chinese tourists filling the gap left by Indians.

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