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Maldives President Muizzu urges China to bolster flow of its tourists amid Indian boycott backlash

"China was our (Maldives') number one market pre-Covid, and it is my request that we intensify efforts for China to regain this position," a readout posted on Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu's official website stated.

Maldives President Muizzu urges China to bolster flow of its tourists amid Indian boycott backlash snt
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First Published Jan 9, 2024, 9:15 PM IST

Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, during his five-day visit to China, has appealed for increased tourism from China amidst a significant boycott movement in India. This comes in the aftermath of derogatory remarks made by three Maldivian ministers against Prime Minister Modi, leading to their suspension by the Maldivian government. The comments have sparked a backlash in India, which was the primary tourist market for the Maldives in 2023.

President Muizzu, known for his pro-Beijing stance, emphasized China as the Maldives' "closest" ally during his address at the Maldives Business Forum in Fujian Province on the second day of his visit.

"China remains one of our closest allies and development partners," he said.

Also read: 'Visit beautiful Lakshadweep': Amid tension with Maldives, Delhi Police's post on 'take a break' goes viral

 

In his speech, President Mohamed Muizzu commended the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014. He expressed that these projects have "delivered the most significant infrastructure projects witnessed in Maldivian history."

Additionally, he called upon China to enhance the influx of its tourists to the Maldives. "China was our (Maldives') number one market pre-Covid, and it is my request that we intensify efforts for China to regain this position," according to a readout posted on his official website.

As per reports from the Maldivian media, both nations have entered into a $50 million agreement to establish an integrated tourism zone in the Indian Ocean island. Official statistics indicate that China ranked as the third-largest contributor to tourist traffic in the Maldives, following India and Russia.

In terms of visitor arrivals to the Maldives, India led the list with 209,198 tourists, followed by Russia with 209,146 arrivals, and China in third place with 187,118 arrivals.

In 2022, India maintained its position as the primary source of tourism for the Maldives, recording 240,000 arrivals. Russia came in second with 198,000 tourists, while Britain ranked third with over 177,000 arrivals.

Also read: Danish Kaneria's 'fiery' one-word post amid Maldives row goes viral; here's what ex-Pakistan cricketer wrote

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, China held the top spot with over 2.80 lakh tourists. However, the country is currently facing challenges in reviving both domestic and foreign tourism due to a nearly four-year lockdown policy and a persisting economic slowdown. Consequently, Chinese tourists, who used to travel abroad in millions before COVID-19, are now limiting their travel due to the economic downturn.

The derogatory remarks made by the now-suspended ministers have sparked a diplomatic dispute between the countries. In response, Indian travel portals and tourists are advocating for a boycott of the Maldives, promoting Indian destinations as an alternative.

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