Navigating Diplomatic Tensions: The Impact on Maldives Tourism and China’s Role

In the midst of growing calls within India to boycott tourism in the Maldives and promote domestic destinations, President Mohamed Muizzu of the island nation has appealed to China to enhance efforts in attracting more tourists. During his five-day visit to China, President Muizzu, known for his pro-China stance, hailed Beijing as the Maldives’ “closest” ally and urged increased investment. Acknowledging China as a crucial partner, Muizzu emphasized the need to intensify efforts to restore China’s position as the primary market for Maldivian tourism, citing its pre-COVID status.

President of the Maldives Mohamed Muizzu urged China to send more tourists to the island nation after facing boycott calls from Indians. (REUTERS)

Speaking at the Maldives Business Forum in Fujian Province, Muizzu underscored China’s significance as a vital ally and development collaborator. He specifically called for renewed efforts to regain China’s prominence in Maldivian tourism, highlighting China’s prior role as the leading source of tourists before the pandemic. During his visit, President Muizzu signed a USD 50 million project with China to develop an integrated tourism zone in the Indian Ocean island, signaling increased collaboration between the two nations.

While China-Maldives relations strengthen, ties between India and the Maldives appear to be deteriorating. The Indian tourism boycott gained momentum after a Maldives minister made derogatory comments about Indian Prime Minister Modi, resulting in numerous cancellations by Indian tourists. The Maldives government responded by suspending three deputy ministers responsible for the offensive social media posts, drawing strong condemnation from the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry. Despite these measures, the widespread boycott campaign continues to impact the Maldives, highlighting the complex dynamics at play in the region.

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