Maldives president urges more efforts to regain China’s top spot in tourism
President Mohamed Muizzu urged intensified efforts to restore China’s status as the primary tourism source for the Maldives, addressing tourism stakeholders from both nations during the Invest Maldives Forum at Fuzhou’s Strait International Convention and Exhibition Centre in China.
Highlighting the pre-pandemic prominence of China as the Maldives’ leading tourism market, President Muizzu emphasised the need to strengthen collaborative endeavours to reclaim this position.
The resurgence of Chinese tourists in January 2023 marked the end of a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, with 187,118 arrivals from China recorded in 2023.
Expressing the desire for reinforced efforts, the president stressed, “…it is my request that we intensify efforts for China to regain this position.”
His remarks coincided with escalating diplomatic tensions between the Maldives and India, the latter being the predominant tourist source market over the last three years.
Recent developments include the suspension of three deputy ministers in the Maldives for contentious posts on social media targeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, prompting a diplomatic summoning of envoys from both nations.
Prime Minister Modi’s video promoting tourism in Lakshadweep has been interpreted by some Indians as a move to dissuade travel to the Maldives, with an Indian social media activist labeling the Maldives a ‘puppet country of China.’
The situation deteriorated as political activists in the Maldives responded, leading to inappropriate comments and racial criticisms against Indians. Two deputies from the youth ministry, Maryam Shiuna and Malsha Shareef, faced severe backlash for derogatory remarks aimed at the Indian Prime Minister.
The escalating tensions culminated in reciprocal summoning of envoys by both the Maldives and India, escalating into a call for a tourism boycott against the Maldives.