Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu has called on China to increase its efforts to attract more tourists to the Maldives, following a series of reservation cancellations by Indian tourists amid a diplomatic dispute according to a report from The New Indian Express.
During his visit to China, Muizzu referred to China as the Maldives' "closest" ally and praised the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, emphasising their significant impact on Maldivian infrastructure.
Despite the diplomatic row, Muizzu urged China to enhance tourism flows, expressing a desire to regain China as the country's top tourist market.
The appeal coincided with the signing of a $50 million project for an integrated tourism zone.
The diplomatic tensions arose from derogatory remarks made by Maldivian ministers against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leading to the suspension of three deputy ministers.
Muizzu, considered a pro-China politician, emphasised economic diversification and the swift implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China.
He also sought Chinese investments for various projects, including the relocation of the Male Commercial Port, Velana International Airport development, airport construction, and special economic zone expansion.
The FTA, signed in 2014, aims to boost bilateral trade, particularly in fish products. Despite the initial agreement during the pro-China administration, the succeeding government did not implement the FTA.
Muizzu highlighted the FTA as a symbol of the close commercial ties between the two countries, aiming to strengthen economic cooperation.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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