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Updated January 9th, 2024 at 17:46 IST

Exporters and traders should not trade with Maldives': CAIT

Subsequent to Modi’s visit, the queries regarding the island zoomed many fold.

Business Desk
Maldives-India row: Lakshadweep remains most-searched destination
Maldives-India row: Lakshadweep remains most-searched destination | Image:Instagram
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Maldives-India row: Lakshadweep became the key trending word in a matter of few hours, the booking in hotels zoomed, the tourist traffic got diverted from Maldives to Lakshadweep, and finally the Confederation of All Indian Traders has called upon exporters & traders to refrain from business with Maldives in protest of insults against Prime Minister Modi.

In a stern response to recent derogatory remarks directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi by certain elements in the Maldives, the Confederation of All India Traders( CAIT) has urged traders & exporters to refrain from conducting business dealings with the Maldives.

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Well, all of this started with PM Modi's visit to Lakshadweep on January 2-3. The pictures of PM Modi in a black kurta, having a sigh of relief, relishing the beauty of nature alongside the beach, drove the netizens and people crazy. 

While taking part in snorkeling activity, PM Modi also took to X and requested people, and said, "In addition to the scenic beauty, Lakshadweep's tranquility is also mesmerising. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on how to work even harder for the welfare of 140 crore Indians. For those who wish to embrace the adventurer in them, Lakshadweep has to be on your list.” 

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Action and Reaction

Subsequent to Modi’s visit, the queries regarding the island zoomed many fold. According to online travel company MakeMyTrip, there has been an increase in on-platform search for the Union Territory by a whopping 3,400 per cent. Similarly, the search interest worldwide for Lakshadweep has reached its highest point in 20 years. A simple search on Google in the time frame of 20 years (2004-present), showed a flat line with a steep rise in 2024- showing the massive interest Lakshadweep garnered over the past few weeks. 

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After this, a flurry of celebrities have taken to X, reminiscing their memories of Maldives. Amitabh Bachchan took to X, and said,“ I have been to Lakshadweep and Andamans and they are such astonishingly beautiful locations .. stunning waters, beaches and the underwater experience is simply unbelievable.” 

Similarly, cricketer Virendra Sehwag also expressed his sentiments on X, and said, “Whether it be the beautiful beaches of Udupi , Paradise Beach in Pondi, Neil and Havelock in Andaman. Bharat is known for converting all Aapda into Avsar, and this dig at our country and our Prime Minister by Maldives ministers is a great Avsar for Bharat to create just the necessary infrastructure to make them attractive to tourists and boost our economy.”

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Just after PM vouched for Lakshadweep as a tourist destination, #Boycott Maldives picked up steam, so much so that #boycott Maldives started trending on social media platforms. 

Reportedly, Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-founder of EaseMyTrip, has declared the suspension of all flight reservations to the Maldives. This decision comes in the wake of a direct response to offensive comments made by Maldivian ministers directed towards India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pitti announced the discontinuation of flight bookings to the Maldives through a post on the social media platform X, stating, "In support of our nation, @EaseMyTrip. EaseMyTrip began the Visit Lakshadweep campaign by #ChaloLakshadweep."

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“I am obsessed with the potential of Indian tourism and have always wondered why we have to pay so much to go to the Maldives when we have Lakshadweep and Andaman. The answer is 1) infrastructure and 2) marketing. The PM’s recent visit has put the spotlight on these destinations. Our hotel brands have shown us time and again that we know how to do luxury like no one else. Let’s take the best of Indian hospitality to build a world class tourism experience,” Radhika Gupta, MD & CEO,  Edelweiss said. 

Even the Israel embassy in India also posted on X about the mesmerising beauty of Lakshadweep. “We were in #Lakshadweep last year upon the federal government's request to initiate the desalination program. Israel is ready to commence working on this project tomorrow. For those who are yet to witness the pristine and majestic underwater beauty of #lakshadweep islands, here are a few pictures showing this island's enchanting allure,” the post read. 

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Maldives’ big loss

Maldives is one of the sought after holiday destinations for Indians, and Maldives economy is also a tourism driven economy. India is one of the biggest drivers of their economy, as a large chunk of tourists go from India to Maldives, giving a push to Maldives economy. 

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According to the Ministry of tourism (MoT) of Maldives, India stood second with 18,905 Indian tourists arriving in the nation in November 2023 alone, accounting for 11.6 per cent of total visitors. India became the second most significant source of tourists to the Maldives in 2023, accounting for 18.3 lakh tourist arrivals (as of November 2023) and holding a 10.9 per cent market share, as Maldives Tourism Ministry data showed. As per Maldives economy, 25 per cent of the economy is  led by tourism and 75 per cent is on some other growth pillars. 

According to data, Maldives receipt from tourism stood at $3.9 billion  in 2021. So any diversion of tourism traffic from Maldives to India will emerge as a big loss for Maldives.

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Published January 8th, 2024 at 18:06 IST

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