No New Enquiries For Travel To Maldives: Tour Operators' Body

India-Maldives diplomatic tensions impact tourism, as Indian tour operators report a halt in new travel enquiries to the Maldives following derogatory remarks about Indians and PM Modi.

Amid the India-Maldives diplomatic row, domestic tour operators' association IATO on Monday said no new enquiries are coming for travel to the island nation since the recent controversy over derogatory remarks on Indians and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) President Rajiv Mehra said, "We have not seen cancellations because people have invested money on bookings related to travel. However, in 15-20 days, we may see some impact".

He also said "no new enquiries are coming in for Maldives from Indian tourists".

India being the top tourist market for Maldives, a potential travel boycott by Indians, if it happens, may become a "pain point" for the island nation, according to Travel Agents' Association of India President Jyoti Mayal.

"India is the number one source market for Maldives, and then to have such derogatory remarks is not going to hold good for them. Post-Covid, Indian tourists played a major role in the revival of Maldives' hospitality sector," she told PTI.

Mayal said this can become a "pain point" for them "because Indian tourists would literally like to boycott, and travel agents also have the ability to influence travel choices".

"Some of our travel operators have informed us that they have seen a surge in cancellations in hotel bookings in Maldives," she added.

Mayal also highlighted the need for infrastructure development for more tourists to visit Lakshadweep.

Mehra said there is a need to develop tourism-related infrastructure like better hotels and resorts in Lakshadweep and also introduce more flights and cruises to encourage travel.

Meanwhile, the Maldivian envoy to India was on Monday summoned to the external affairs ministry and was conveyed strong concern over remarks posted on social media against Prime Minister Narendra Modi by a number of Maldives ministers, sources said.

The Maldives government had on Sunday suspended three deputy ministers for derogatory social media posts against Modi.

The disparaging remarks by the ministers have drawn flak in India, with many celebrities urging people on X to explore domestic tourist destinations instead of going to the Maldives.

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