India’s Enduring Charm: Maldives’ Tourism Industry Responds to Controversial Posts Amidst PM Modi’s Lakshadweep Visit

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The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) staunchly denounces derogatory remarks made by certain Deputy Ministers on social media platforms targeting India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following his Lakshadweep visit. MATI reaffirms India’s consistent role as a “first responder” in Maldives’ historical crises and acknowledges India’s substantial contribution to the Maldivian tourism industry.

MATI’s statement, issued on Monday, expressed strong condemnation of the Deputy Ministers’ offensive comments towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India. Recognizing India as a crucial neighbor and ally, MATI highlighted India’s pivotal support during various crises in Maldives’ history and its significant contribution to the country’s tourism sector, especially amid the COVID-19 recovery.

Emphasizing the enduring bond between the two nations, MATI urged for the preservation of their robust relationship, refraining from actions or rhetoric that might jeopardize this close association.

However, despite efforts to foster strong ties, the fallout extended beyond diplomatic realms. EaseMyTrip, a prominent Indian travel platform, suspended flight bookings to the Maldives as a response to the controversy. Prashant Pitti, co-founder of EaseMyTrip, stated their decision and voiced aspirations for Lakshadweep to become an international tourist destination.

In a similar vein, MakeMyTrip observed a staggering 3,400 per cent surge in Lakshadweep-related searches post-PM Modi’s visit, prompting the launch of a new campaign targeted at local travelers titled “Beaches of India.”

The dispute risks impacting the Maldives’ economy, heavily reliant on tourism, with Indian visitors forming the largest group. The disagreement adds strain to bilateral relations, already tense since President Mohamed Muizzu assumed office in September last year.

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In response to the offensive remarks against PM Modi, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) urged domestic traders and exporters to refrain from conducting business with the Maldives, expressing solidarity and disapproval against such disrespectful behavior.

Notably, Maldives took disciplinary action, suspending Deputy Ministers Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna, and Abdulla Mahzoom Majid for their social media posts against India. The Maldivian government clarified that these personal views do not represent its official stance on the matter.

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