Maldives Tourism ‘Robust’ Despite Shift in Source Markets, Says Minister

Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed has sought to downplay the recent decline in Indian tourist arrivals, suggesting that certain media reports have exaggerated the situation.

Speaking to Turkey-based news outlet TRT World, Minister Saeed stressed that the Maldives maintains friendly relations with both India and China amidst a shift in the island nation’s ties with regional powers.

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Tourist arrivals from India, traditionally the Maldives’ top source market, have dwindled in recent months. This coincides with a strengthening of ties between the Maldives and China, causing some friction with India. However, Minister Saeed emphasised that the Maldives remains open to tourists from all countries and that the country values both Chinese and Indian markets.

Maldives-India relations

The current Maldivian administration, which took office in November 2023, had previously requested the withdrawal of Indian troops from the island nation, citing concerns over sovereignty. Saeed, however, reiterated that the Maldives still considers India a friend.

Shifting tourism trends

Addressing the decline in Indian tourism, Saeed stated, “On the question of the decline in the number of Indian tourists in recent months, I think certain headlines have blown things out of proportion. Tourism arrivals from certain countries decline while they grow from others. For example, China was in the number one spot before Covid. But now it has bounced back. We have flights coming from India on a daily – almost hourly – basis.”

Economic outlook

Saeed acknowledged the impact of global crises, including the war in Ukraine and Israel’s war on Gaza, on the Maldivian economy. Despite these challenges, the country anticipates growth in its tourism sector. “But despite chaos across the globe, we expect good growth in the tourism sector. This year until now, we have seen more than 500,000 visitors, which is a major leap over the past trend,” he said. “So, we are expecting to meet the target of 2.4 million arrivals this year.”

The minister highlighted increased air connectivity to the Maldives, with new flights from China, Malaysia, and carriers such as Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, and Qatar Airways offering connections to Europe and beyond.

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