Indian trade body urges tour operators to stop promoting Maldives, divert enquiries towards Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands

PM visits pristine beautiful beaches at Bangaram, in Lakshadweep on January 04, 2024.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has urged tourism and trade associations of the country to stop promoting Maldives and divert all enquiries towards Indian islands like Lakshadweep.

 “Please divert all such enquiries to Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands which are even better than Maldives in many ways and other destinations which can be promoted in the Indian Ocean area are Srilanka, Mauritius, Bali, Phuket etc,” Subhash Goyal, who heads the Expert Committee on Tourism at ICC, said in a statement as quoted by Business Today.

He also urged tour operators to suspend their operations in Maldives given the ‘anti-India feelings’ expressed by the Island Nations’ ministers recently which triggered a diplomatic row between the two nations.

India-Maldives diplomatic row

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned the Maldivian envoy to India Ibrahim Shaheeb on Monday (January 8, 2024) and conveyed strong concern over remarks posted on social media against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As per reports, the Maldives High Commissioner was seen arriving at the MEA office building and leaving a short while later.

The Ministry summoned the envoy amid the ongoing row between India and the Maldives over derogatory remarks made by Maldivian leaders against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep.

Major Indian travel agencies take steps

Travel company MakeMyTrip (MMT) said it observed a 3400 per cent spike in on-platform searches for Lakshadweep since Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited it recently.

“We have observed a 3400% increase in on-platform searches for Lakshadweep ever since Honorable PM’s visit,” the company posted on X.

“This interest in Indian beaches has inspired us to launch a ‘Beaches of India’ campaign on the platform with offers and discounts to encourage Indian travellers to explore country’s stunning beaches. Keep watching this space!” the company further said.

Several Indian celebrities have been urging citizens to visit Lakshadweep and joined the #ExploreIndianislands trend on social media platforms.

Travel booking website EaseMyTrip on Monday said it cancelled all Maldives flight bookings after a diplomatic row erupted with India over remarks against Indian PM Narendra Modi’s recent visit to  Lakshadweep.

Supporting India, Nishant Pitti, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Indian online travel company, wrote on X: “In solidarity with our nation, @EaseMyTrip  has suspended all Maldives flight bookings #TravelUpdate #SupportingNation #LakshadweepTourism #ExploreIndianlslands #Lakshadweep #ExploreIndianIslands kishanreddybjp@JM_Scindia@PMOIndia@tourismgoi@narendramodi@incredibleindia.”

In a separate post, he urged people to visit Ayodhya or Lakshadweep.

“Embark on a journey with @EaseMyTrip to discover the enchanting beauty of Ayodhya and the pristine allure of Lakshadweep! Immerse yourself in rich culture and breathtaking landscapes. Say no to Maldives bookings and explore the wonders of Ayodhya and Lakshadweep,” he said.

The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry or MATI reacts to recent development

The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry or MATI, meanwhile, condemned the remarks made by Maldivian ministers against Indian PM Narendra Modi.

“The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) strongly condemns the derogatory comments made by some Deputy Ministers on social media platforms, directed towards the Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Narendra Modi as well as the people of India,” MATI said in a statement.

The organizations described India as ‘closest neighbours and allies’.

“India has always been a first responder to various crises throughout our history and we are immensely grateful to the close relationship that the Government as well as people of India have maintained with us,” read the statement.

The statement said: “India has also been a consistent and significant contributor to the Tourism Industry of the Maldives. A contributor that has greatly assisted our recovery efforts during COVID-19, right after we re-opened our borders. Since then, India has continued to remain as one of the top markets for the Maldives.”

Maldives government’s reaction to Ministers remarks

The Maldives government has distanced itself from the remarks made by its ministers. Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs Moosa Zameer said that these remarks against foreign leaders are “unacceptable” and do not reflect the official position of the Maldives government.