MATI Secretary General Ahmed Nazeer at an economic committee meeting. Dhauru Photo/Abdullah Yashau

MATI condemns deputy ministers' India remarks amid tourism boycott

The hashtag '#BoycottMaldives' has become trending on social media platforms in India.

9 January 2024

The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) has condemned the insulting comments made by three deputy ministers of the Youth Ministry against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Condemning the verbal attack, MATI issued a press release on Monday calling on Maldives and India to maintain close relations and stop acts and speeches that could adversely affect the longstanding relationship.

The MATI statement noted that:

  • India is Maldives' neighbour; India was the first to provide aid in various incidents in the history of Maldives

  • The association said it appreciated the closeness shown by the government and people of India towards Maldives

  • India is an important tourism partner in Maldives; India has played a major role in the post-Covid tourism boom

  • Since then, India has become Maldives's largest market

The three deputy ministers of the Youth Ministry suspended in the case are:

  • Malsha Shareef

  • Maryam Shiuna 

  • Abdullah Mahzoom Majid

The President's Office did not respond to questions about how long they were suspended or whether their salaries were paid during suspension.

The Hindustan Times reported that India is very angry with President Muizzu over his silence despite the behavior of three of his deputy ministers.

The Indian External Affairs Minister also questioned whether the three ministers made such tweets on the direct instructions of President Muizzu to seek financial assistance from China.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a video on his recent visit to Lakshadweep to promote tourism in the region.

Meanwhile, some Indians said that Modi's video was released to tell people that Indians do not have to go to Maldives for vacation and that they can experience the beauty of Maldives while staying in their own country.

Reposting Modi's video, an Indian social media activist called Maldives a "puppet country of China". Some Maldivian political activists in X responded to these remarks saying that the video is a challenge to Maldivian tourism.

The issue has come to a breaking point, and some Indian public and celebrities have launched a campaign calling for their people not to come to Maldives for holidays. Thus:

  • Some of Bollywood’s A-list stars have said they don’t want to come to a country of people who don’t respect their country

  • A social media campaign has been launched to encourage people to go on holiday to Lakshadweep

The hashtag '#BoycottMaldives' has become trending on social media platforms in India as some Indian tourists have canceled their holiday bookings and started boycotting Maldives.

Indians have started commenting on Google and booking websites saying the rating of Maldivian resorts is poor and the quality of services provided by the resorts is poor.

India has been the largest tourist destination in Maldives for the past four years.