India Sends Highest Tourists To Maldives, Over 2 Lakh Indians Visited Island Country In 2023

India Sends Highest Tourists To Maldives, Over 2 Lakh Indians Visited Island Country In 2023

The surprising speed of this action, despite the government's anti-India stance, can be attributed to India's significant contribution to Maldives' tourism sector.

Tejas JoshiUpdated: Monday, January 08, 2024, 01:03 PM IST
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Maldives Island Nation | File pic

Three deputy ministers in the Maldives government were suspended on Sunday in response to the controversy surrounding their remarks against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The dispute arose following PM Modi's recent visit to Lakshadweep, perceived as an effort to promote tourism on the Indian Islands. The visit sparked a debate about Indians choosing Lakshadweep over the Maldives, leading to the use of racist slurs by the neighboring country's ministers against the Prime Minister and Indians in general, expressing disapproval of the Lakshadweep promotion.

Facing criticism from India for their comments, the newly-elected Mohamed Muizzu government, often perceived as anti-India and pro-China, swiftly took action to suspend the ministers. The surprising speed of this action, despite the government's anti-India stance, can be attributed to India's significant contribution to Maldives' tourism sector.

India's contribution to Tourism in Maldives

As per data from the Maldives tourism ministry, Indian tourists constituted the largest group of visitors to the Maldives until December 2023. The statistics revealed that by December 13, a total of 1,757,939 tourists had visited the island nation, reflecting a 12.6% rise compared to the 1.5 million arrivals recorded in 2022.

India had the highest number of tourists visiting the Maldives, with 209,198 visitors, followed by Russia with 209,146 and China with 187,118.

Approximately 155,730 tourists arrived in the Maldives from the United Kingdom, 135,090 from Germany, 118,412 from Italy, 74,575 from the United States, 49,199 from France, 40,462 from Spain, and 37,260 from Switzerland.

Aviation data has further confirmed that the Maldives has consistently attracted Indian tourists as a preferred tourism destination for several years.

During the initial stage of expansion into the Maldives in the October-December quarter of 2018, the number of passengers traveling on direct flights between India and Maldives was 51,000. This figure increased to 60,000 passengers in the corresponding quarter of 2019. This equates to an average of nearly 700 passengers per day in each direction between India and the Maldives!

India helped Maldivian economy recover post pandemic

Despite the disruptions caused by Covid-19, the period from October to December 2020 witnessed 32,000 passengers in each direction. In 2021, breaking all previous records, India had overcome the severe second wave of the pandemic, and Maldives had begun to welcome tourists under certain restrictions, while much of the world remained restricted.

A remarkable 115,000 passengers flew from India to the Maldives in the fourth quarter of 2021, averaging at 1,250 passengers per day on direct flights. However, these numbers declined in 2022 as global restrictions eased, and Indian travelers explored various destinations worldwide.

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