Bollywood stars promote Lakshadweep amid the row over Maldives comments

Bollywood stars Salman, Shradhha, Tiger, and Akshay
Bollywood stars Salman Khan (top left), Shraddha Kapoor (top right), Tiger Shroff (bottom left), and Akshay Kumar (bottom right) have all posted on social media in support of Lakshadweep and Indian tourism. Photos and screenshots courtesy: Instagram/beingsalmankhan; shraddhakapoor; tigerjackieshroff; akshaykumar

Bollywood stars Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Shraddha Kapoor, and Tiger Shroff, along with other renowned personalities, have appealed to fans to “explore Indian islands” and coastal destinations. This celebrity appeal follows disparaging remarks by Maldivian ministers in relation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s snorkelling trip to Lakshadweep, raising the tourism profile of the archipelago.

In their social media posts, actor Akshay Kumar, cricketer Hardik Pandya and former Indian cricket team member Venkatesh Prasad urged people to support the Indian tourism sector.

Cricketer Hardik Pandya (left) has lavished praise on Lakshadweep, while former Indian team member Venkatesh Prasad (right) has criticised the Maldivian minister for using derogatory language against India. Photo and screenshot courtesy: Instagram/hardikpandya93; bkvenkateshprasad

At the same time, many of the celebrities condemned the comments by Maldivian ministers on the social network X. The comments have triggered a huge social media row, with Internet users pitting Lakshadweep and Maldives as rival tourist destinations.

The hashtag #BoycottMaldives has been trending on X all day, taking some shine off the Indian Ocean island nation’s reputation.

The Maldivian government today distanced itself from the “derogatory remarks on social media platforms against foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals”. Three Maldives ministers were suspended today in the fallout of the comments.

Celebrities lend their charm to #ExploreIndianIslands

In an X post, actor Salman Khan said that it was “cool” to see Modi enjoy the clean and stunning beaches of Lakshadweep. “…and the best part is that yeh hamare India mein hain,” wrote the Tiger 3 star.

Actor Tiger Shroff said in a post that the Lakshadweep islands had captured his heart. “The rich culture, tranquil beaches, and the genuine warmth of its people create an enchanting allure. Join me in celebrating the inclusivity and unparalleled beauty of these islands – a treasure trove waiting for us to explore!” he wrote.

Actor Varun Dhawan shared a photo of Modi walking on the sands in Lakshadweep and praised “our pristine beaches and water”.

Actress Shraddha Kapoor and other stars shared posts on X, using the hashtags ‘Explore Indian Islands’ and ‘Lakshadweep’.

“All these images and memes making me super FOMO now. Lakshadweep has such pristine beaches and coastlines, thriving local culture, I’m on the verge of booking an impulse chhutti. This year, why not #ExploreIndianIslands (sic),” Shraddha Kapoor shared on X.

Actor Kartik Aaryan wrote on X: “Incredible India is not just a tag, our beautiful country has some of the most incredible and stunning locales and #Lakshadweep is an example of it – a heaven like place in India itself! Can’t wait to explore this beautiful Indian island.”

Hardik Pandya said that it was “extremely sad” to see what was being said about India. He added: “With its gorgeous marine life, beautiful beaches, Lakshadweep is the perfect getaway spot and surely a must visit for me for my next holiday.”

Let us support Indian tourism, says Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar, who rang in the New Year in the Maldives with his family, condemned the “hateful and racist” remarks by prominent public figures from the Maldives. His post pointed out how much the island nation benefited from the arrival of Indian tourists.

Surprised that they are doing this to a country that sends them the maximum number of tourists… We are good to our neighbours but why should we tolerate such unprovoked hate?

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, on the Lakshadweep-Maldives row

“I’ve visited the Maldives many times and always praised it, but dignity first. Let us decide to #ExploreIndianIslands and support our own tourism,” Akshay wrote on the microblogging site.

Speaking in the same vein, Venkatesh Prasad posted: “A deputy minister using such language for our country. Maldives is a largely poor country largely dependent on upmarket tourism with over 15% tourists from India.”

He added: “India has very many unexplored beautiful coastal towns, and this is a great opportunity to develop many of them into tourist destinations.”

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar said that he rang in his 50th birthday in Sindhudurg, and that this coastal town in Maharashtra offered everything “we wanted, and more”.

Tendulkar said: “Gorgeous locations combined with wonderful hospitality left us with a treasure trove of memories. India is blessed with beautiful coastlines and pristine islands. With our ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ philosophy, we have so much to explore, so many memories waiting to be created.”

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar and actors John Abraham, Kangana Ranaut, and Randeep Hooda were also among some of the Indian film personalities to promote Lakshadweep through social media.

“With the amazing Indian hospitality, the idea of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ and a vast marine life to explore, Lakshadweep is the place to go,” said Abraham.

Ranaut called Lakshadweep an “almost untouched, unexplored and unexploited natural island”.

Hooda, who shot his upcoming film Veer Savarkar in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said that he was awed by the pristine beauty and the rich history of the region.