A recent vacation by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lakshadweep, an Indian archipelago, has sparked a diplomatic row with the Maldives. Modi’s social media posts promoting domestic tourism in Lakshadweep led to a backlash from Maldivian officials, resulting in the suspension of three ministers who made derogatory remarks about Modi.
The incident escalated when Indian celebrities, including Bollywood stars and cricketers, called for a boycott of travel to the Maldives in favor of domestic destinations. The hashtag #BoycottMaldives gained traction on social media, with some Indian travelers canceling their trips to the Maldives.
The Maldives, heavily reliant on tourism, particularly from India, expressed regret over the derogatory comments made by the suspended officials. The diplomatic fallout highlighted the delicate relationship between the two nations, with economic interests, geopolitical influences, and tourism dynamics playing a crucial role.
As the controversy unfolded, an Indian travel portal, EaseMyTrip, suspended flight bookings to the Maldives “in solidarity with our nation.” The incident underscores the high stakes involved in the Maldives, where tourism contributes significantly to the country’s GDP.
Despite the tensions, efforts have been made to de-escalate the situation, with the Maldives Association of Tour and Travel Operators urging reconciliation and emphasizing that the controversial comments do not reflect the sentiments of Maldivians in general. The Maldivian Foreign Minister also condemned the remarks, emphasizing the commitment to positive dialogue with partners.
The incident sheds light on the intricate relationship between India and the Maldives, where geopolitical considerations, economic ties, and diplomatic nuances are closely intertwined.