India Drops To 5th In Maldives Tourism Rankings, Was No.1 In 2023

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India Drops To 5th In Maldives Tourism Rankings, Was No.1 In 2023

As of December 31 last year, India had held the top position in terms of the number of tourists.

New Delhi:

The Maldives has experienced a notable shift in its tourist demographics over the past three weeks, as data from the island nation’s tourism ministry reveals a significant drop in Indian visitors from the third to the fifth largest group. 

The statistics, obtained as of January 28 reflect the latest developments in diplomatic relations between India and the Maldives.

According to the official Maldivian government data, this is how countries rank in terms of arrivals in the archipelago. 

  1. Russia: 18,561 arrivals (10.6% market share, Rank 2 in 2023)
  2. Italy: 18,111 arrivals (10.4% market share, Rank 6 in 2023)
  3. China: 16,529 arrivals (9.5% market share, Rank 3 in 2023)
  4. UK: 14,588 arrivals (8.4% market share, Rank 4 in 2023)
  5. India: 13,989 arrivals (8.0% market share, Rank 1 in 2023)
  6. Germany: 10,652 arrivals (6.1% market share)
  7. USA: 6,299 arrivals (3.6% market share, Rank 7 in 2023)
  8. France: 6,168 arrivals (3.5% market share, Rank 8 in 2023)
  9. Poland: 5,109 arrivals (2.9% market share, Rank 14 in 2023)
  10. Switzerland: 3,330 arrivals (1.9% market share, Rank 10 in 2023)

As of December 31 last year, India had held the top position in terms of the number of tourists, with 209,198 arrivals, constituting nearly 11 per cent of the Maldives’ tourism market for that year. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s beach excursion to Lakshadweep on January 2 and a diplomatic fallout with the Maldives triggered a significant decline in Indian tourist numbers.

The controversy gained momentum when a Maldives minister accused India of targeting the nation, asserting that India faces challenges in competing with the Maldives in beach tourism. Diplomatic tensions between the two countries have been escalating, especially since President Mohamed Muizzu assumed office in November last year, signaling a shift in foreign policy towards closer ties with China and a departure from the previous “India first” approach.

The flare-up has led to impeachment proceedings against President Muizzu initiated by the main opposition party, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The opposition party accuses President Muizzu of a pro-China stance, particularly after the controversial docking of a Chinese spy ship in its capital Male. A row in parliament ensued, culminating in the decision to begin impeachment proceedings.

President Muizzu’s anti-India rhetoric reached new heights, with the demand for the withdrawal of Indian troops stationed in the Maldives by mid-March, citing their presence as a security threat. The MDP condemned the policy shift, labeling it as “extremely detrimental” to the country’s long-term development.

The Maldives, located strategically in the Indian Ocean, remains a key player in India’s regional initiatives such as ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy.’

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