For the past week, the talks on the streets of Male have revolved around the diplomatic split with India and the probable impact from the remarks made by three Maldives junior ministers against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A boycott by Indian tourists could jeopardize the lovely tourist site and jeopardize its primary source of income.

The Maldives’ tourism industry is mostly driven by Indian visitors, who made up the largest group of visitors by nationality last year. Due to PM Modi’s posts on India’s Lakshadweep islands, the suspended ministers sparked outrage on social media by calling him a “clown” and a “puppet of Israel.” Concerns remain notwithstanding the Maldivian foreign ministry’s clarification that these remarks were personal and did not reflect the position of the government.

With a population of 520,000 compared to India’s 1.4 billion, the tiny island nation of the Maldives is significantly dependent on its larger neighbor for necessities like infrastructure, food, and technological breakthroughs. Maldivians worry that tensions between the two nations may worsen as a result of the diplomatic dispute.


Locals are clearly disappointed, not only about India’s possible boycott but also about their government for what they see as a decision gone wrong. “We were not pleased with the calls for a boycott [from India]. However, our disappointment with our government was greater. A student at the Maldivian National University named Mariyam Eem Shafeeg told the BBC that “our officials lacked good judgment.”

Cultural links between the Maldives and India have emerged as a result of this continuous dispute; locals have grown up watching Bollywood dramas and flicks. The Maldivian Democratic Party’s Shafeeg, who is well-known for advocating for “India first,” notes that Male also “depends on India for food, education, and healthcare.”

The complex web of cultural, economic, and geopolitical ties that bind these two states across the wide width of the Indian Ocean is called into question by the diplomatic schism, which also raises concerns about economic dangers. India possesses military soldiers and helicopters stationed on the islands, making it a crucial ally. But ever since Muizzu—who is regarded as pro-Chinese—was elected in November, things have been worse.

As it happened, this dispute started a few days prior to Muizzu’s scheduled departure for China. Prior to the Covid-19 epidemic, Chinese tourists were by far the most common visitors to the Maldives. Tour providers do, however, observe a significant decrease in numbers, which could be related to higher ticket costs and fewer available flights. During his visit, Muizzu addressed the matter and emphasized the significance of intensifying efforts to return China to its previous position as the Maldives’ main source of tourists.


Even if the president of the Maldives is pro-China, some Maldivians think he should be stricter on the ministers who are committing mistakes while still keeping excellent relations with India. “The ministers ought to have been fired immediately. Since we rely on our neighbor for the majority of our food supplies, we are now concerned about India’s response,” opposition lawyer Aik Ahmed Easa told the BBC.

The support that Indian companies are giving to the “boycott Maldives movement” is another source of concern for Maldivians. The website EasyMyTrip announced that it has stopped accepting reservations for any flights to the nation. A prominent Indian trade association has instructed its members to cease conducting business with the Maldives until an apology is received. These comments have left the Maldives Association of Tour and Travel Operators, or MATATO, anxious. MATATO urged EaseMyTrip to ignore the “regrettable” remarks on Tuesday, stating that they did not represent the opinions of the Maldivians.

As we offer our sincere thanks for the long-lasting friendship and cooperation that characterize the Maldives’ relationship with India, we want you to know that these ties go beyond issues of politics. The message said, “We view our Indian counterparts as beloved brothers and sisters.” “With over two-thirds of the Maldives’ GDP coming from the tourism industry and 44,000 Maldivians employed in it, tourism is the lifeblood of the islands. The possible negative effect on tourism has the capacity to have catastrophic effects on our economy,” it continued.