Maldives lays red carpet for Indians after 42% dip in tourists

In May, the Maldivian tourism minister appealed to Indians to be part of the country's tourism as its economy depended on it. Its foreign minister will be in India on May 9. The Maldives is reaching out to Indians after tourists from India to the country dipped by 42% in the first four months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.
Maldives lays red carpet for Indians after 42% dip in tourists
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"Please be a part of the Maldives' tourism. Our economy depends on tourism," Maldivian tourism minister Ibrahim Faisal recently appealed to Indian tourists amid a significant decline in tourist arrivals from India since the diplomatic row between the two countries erupted in January.

Indian tourists to the Maldives dipped by 42% in the first four months of this year in comparison to the same period in 2023.

Tourism Minister Faisal's remark during an interview was the latest in a string of attempts by the Maldives to woo Indian tourists back after Maldivian Tourism Ministry statistics that showed how India, from being a top visitor country, slipped to sixth position

At the same time, there has been a steep increase in the number of Chinese tourists.

Four months ago, the scenario was quite different. Indian tourists were the highest foreign visitors to the Maldives in 2023 and China was in third spot.

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Maldives lays red carpet for Indians after 42% dip in tourists

Data reveals that the number of tourists from India declined by 42% in the first four months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

While the Maldives received 73,785 tourists from India between January and April in 2023, the island nation recorded 42,638 tourist arrivals in the same period this year - a decline of 31,147 tourists in absolute terms.

Statistics show 15,006 Indians visited the island nation in January 2024. In February, 11,252 Indian tourists visited the island nation, as compared to 24,632 tourists the same month last year.

In March this year, only 7,668 Indians visited the Maldives, as compared to a total of 16,141 tourists during the same month in 2023. Similarly, April saw 8,712 Indians visiting the Maldives. The number was 18,662 in April 2023.

This consistent dip in tourist arrivals from India has resulted in a significant decline in revenue for the Maldives, where tourism is the largest industry, accounting for 28% of its GDP.

On average, a trip to the Maldives from India can cost Rs 1.5 lakh per person for a seven-day stay. Thus, a decline of 31,147 tourists results in a revenue loss of Rs 468 crore or $56 million.

The loss in revenue is likely to be more as Indian High Net Individual (HNI) travellers visiting the Maldives usually spend anywhere between $2,500 to $5,000 (approximately Rs 2.07- Rs 4.14 lakh) per night.

According to a report in the Maldivian news portal, the impact of the decline has been significant as India also plays a vital role in sustaining tourism revenue during the off-peak season.

"Indian travellers have a counter-travel pattern to European travellers, meaning Indian visitors frequent the Maldives during hot seasons, which coincides with a drop in European market arrivals. India is the most significant 'filler' for the Maldives tourism off-peak season," the report said.

Travel agencies and operators relying on Indian arrivals have reported a revenue decline of 80%.

The dropping footfalls have prompted the Maldives to reach out to India in a bid to woo back tourists.

Maldivian Tourism Minister Faisal was the latest to acknowledge the pitfalls of an 'Indian-mukt' Maldives tourism. Citing the historical ties between the two countries, Faisal said in an interview, "We always promote peace and a friendly environment. Our people and the government will give a warm welcome to Indian arrivals."

Days ago, the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) held a meeting with the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives and discussed "collaborative efforts to promote tourism". The tourism body also stated that it would hold road shows across key Indian cities to promote the Maldives as a tourism destination.

"Plans are currently underway to launch comprehensive road shows across key Indian cities and to facilitate influencer and media familiarisation trips to the Maldives in the upcoming months," the association said in a statement while calling India a "crucial tourist market" to the Maldives.

Moreover, Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer is also coming to India for his first high-level ministerial visit.

Foreign Minister Zameer is scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday and regional issues are likely to be among the topics up for discussion.

The developments come as ties between the Maldives and India nosedived following derogatory remarks by three Maldivian ministers against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media last year.

The row started after PM Modi visited Lakshadweep in the first week of January and shared images of its pristine landscape. PM Modi's posts were seen in the Maldives as the promotion of Lakshadweep as an alternative tourist destination to the island nation.

The remarks sparked a massive backlash as several Indians, including celebrities, dropped their plans to visit the Maldives and started a 'Lakshadweep Chalo' drive.

Source: India Today

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