According to the Maldives tourism ministry, India leads with 209,198 tourists, followed closely by Russia (209,146) and China (187,118) out of a total of 1,757,939 visitors to the islands till 13 December in 2023.
While the Maldives has been a favoured destination for Indian tourists, recent comments by certain Maldivians, including a minister, on social media have led to calls for a boycott as reported by Hindustan Times.
The tensions originated from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Lakshadweep, generating interest in Indian islands.
Prime Minister Modi's exploration of Lakshadweep's beaches and snorkelling pictures became viral on social media, while Maldives Minister Mariyam Shiuna criticised Modi and made insulting remarks about him, prompting calls for a boycott.
Several Indian celebrities and influencers are now supporting an online campaign urging a boycott of the Maldives.
Former cricketer Aakash Chopra and influencer Sonam Mahajan joined the boycott, urging Indians to cancel Maldives trips.
With social media influencers highlighting Lakshadweep's attractions and emphasising the call to choose Indian destinations over the Maldives amid tensions, the number of tourists visiting Maldives seems poised to take an even lower dip.
From October to December 2018, direct flights saw 51,000 passengers travelling between India and Maldives, a number that increased to 60,000 in the same quarter of 2019, equating to nearly 700 passengers daily in both directions.
Even amid the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the October to December quarter of 2020 witnessed 32,000 passengers traveling each way.
By 2021, with India overcoming the devastating second wave of Covid-19 and Maldives cautiously reopening to tourists, the numbers reached unprecedented levels.
The final quarter of 2021 recorded a remarkable 1.15 lakh passengers flying directly from India to Maldives, averaging 1,250 passengers daily.
However, these figures dipped in 2022 as global travel restrictions eased, and Indian travellers explored various destinations worldwide.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!