The Indian travel company, EaseMyTrip, has imposed a restriction on bookings to the Maldives starting from January 8. The company states that the decision is in line with its commitment to the nation’s benefit first. The statement released by the company includes the slogan “Nation First, Business Later.”
The company reveals that its actions are a response to controversial comments made by Maldivian government officials about India and Prime Minister Modi. EaseMyTrip expresses pride in India’s diverse landscapes, spanning 7500 kilometers, including the Lakshadweep, Andaman, Goa, and Kerala.
Impact on the Maldivian Economy: MATATO
The Maldives Association of Tour and Travel Operators (MATATO), on January 9, emphasizes the equal importance of Indians for the Maldivian people. MATATO had previously appealed to EaseMyTrip to resume flight bookings to the Maldives.
MATATO urges understanding, stating that their appeal is not intended to reflect negatively on India but rather to bring attention to the sentiments of the Maldivian people. They apologize for any misunderstanding.
Nishant Pitti, CEO of EaseMyTrip, addresses the Maldives Association, highlighting the significance of Indian tourists for both India and the Maldives. He emphasizes the deep friendship beyond political considerations.
The Travel Industry Speaks: India’s Key Support
The Maldives travel industry acknowledges India as the foremost supporter during challenging times. MATI (Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators) criticizes the disrespectful comments made by their ministers against India and PM Modi. They state that India is their partner, the first to come to their aid during difficult times.
India is the major stakeholder in the Maldivian travel industry, and the aim is to maintain this partnership for centuries. Any attempt to jeopardize relations between the two nations is strongly condemned.
Economic Dependency on Tourism: India’s Significant Contribution
The Maldivian economy heavily relies on tourism, with 70% of jobs coming from the sector. Income generated from tourism contributes between 14% and 20% to the country’s revenue, with 63,000 Indian tourists visiting during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last three years, Indian tourists constituted 15-25% of the total visitors.
In 2021, 2.91 lakh Indian tourists visited the Maldives, followed by 2.41 lakh in 2022 and an expected 2.10 lakh in 2023. The Maldives remains economically dependent on tourism, with India being its largest contributor.
Delhi-based tourist company owner Anand Kumar expresses hope for a significant number of Indians celebrating Christmas and the New Year in the Maldives. This season witnesses 30-50 thousand people visiting, with 30% of them choosing the Maldives to celebrate their holidays.