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Indian tourists ditch Maldives amid row as numbers drop 40%; China arrivals up 200%

April 20, 2024 11:08 am

Maldives' President Mohamed Muizzu
Maldives’ President Mohamed Muizzu

By Akriti Anand

The number of tourists from India to the Maldives declined by almost 40 per cent during the January-March 2024 period as compared to the data from the same period in 2023. At the same time, the total number of tourists from China shot up by over 200 per cent.

The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism released its monthly report on tourist arrivals recently. The data showed the tourist arrivals in the island nation between January and March this year.

The report revealed that as many as 56,208 Indian tourists had visited Maldives between January and March 2023. This number declined to 34,847 in the January-March 2024 period. This was a 38 per cent decline from 2023.

Meanwhile, 17,691 tourists from China visited Maldives during January-March 2023. The tally rose to 67,399 during January-March 2024 — recording a spike of 281 per cent.

As per the latest data, India ranks sixth in the top 10 markets for Maldives tourism, while China ranks No. 1 with an 11 per cent share.

The data holds significance as India once used to be a significant and top-most contributor to the Maldive’s tourism statistics. Indians were only second to Russia in the chart showing tourist arrivals in the Maldives by nationality in January-November 2023. The increase in arrivals from India started in 2020, as compared to that from China.

Before 2020, people from China were leading the tourism charts in the Maldives. In 2020, China had an 18.31 per cent share among ‘Top Ten Markets Arrivals’ in Maldives, the highest that year.

India dominated the Maldives tourism market until December last year. Its position started declining starting January 2 this year, when India ranked third among the top 10 countries that make up most of the Maldives’ tourism market share. India’s rank further plunged to fifth on January 21 and then to sixth on March 3.

Since then, China has steadily climbed the chart from 10th to the first spot.

India-Maldives row

The drop in tourists from India was seen soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to promote Laskhwadeep as a tourist destination, triggering a row in the Maldives in the first week of January this year. Later, Maldives’ President Mohamed Muizzu requested India to withdraw its troops stationed in the island nation.

The declining number of tourists from India and the subsequent increase in that from China is in line with Muizzu’s policies and deals that seem to snub India and welcome China.

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