New Delhi : It seems Maldives is in real trouble now…A top tour and travel operator body of the Maldives on Tuesday sought to improve ties with India to prevent a “potential adverse impact” on the country’s tourism, which it called the lifeline of the island nation.
The letter comes a day after diplomatic spat between India and Maldives escalated over derogatory comments against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi by three Maldivian ministers following their posts on Lakshadweep. Three Maldivian ministers had speculated that PM Modi’s move was an attempt to project Lakshadweep as an alternative tourist destination to the Maldives. The derogatory post against India and PM Modi sparked anger among the Indian people and many including sports luminaries and Bollywood celebrities called for boycotting trips to the island nation.
Nishant Pitti, CEO of India-based online travel booking platform EaseMyTrip, had also announced the cancellation of all bookings for Maldives. They had announced the suspension of all flight bookings to the island nation on their website in a show of solidarity with the nation. The Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) in a letter addressed to Pitti has “sincerely apologized” for the hurt caused by the derogatory comments made by the Indian Prime Minister and some of his deputy ministers against Indians. “Tourism is the lifeblood of the Maldives, contributing more than two-thirds of our GDP and providing livelihoods to approximately 44,000 Maldivians who work directly in the tourism sector. The letter said the potential adverse impact on tourism has the potential to have a serious impact on our economy, impacting the lives and well-being of many people.
It said recent events have deeply impacted relations between India and Maldives and it sincerely apologizes for the hurt caused by these comments. “We want you to know that the bonds that connect our countries go beyond politics. The letter said, we consider our Indian counterparts not only as business partners but also as dear brothers and sisters. It added: We strongly believe that cooperative efforts and open communication are essential to maintain friendly relations, facilitate trade, and keep cultural exchanges between our countries strong and uninterrupted.
Saying that MATATO recognizes our strategic alliances with our Indian counterparts”, the letter further said, it understands that these relationships “go beyond the professional realm” and are “consistent with the enduring friendship between our two countries and Serve as a testament to the partnership. Reiterating that the Indian market remains “an indispensable force in the success of the Maldives’ tourism sector”, providing vital support to guest houses and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are dependent on the influx of Indian visitors, MATATO said it politely seeks “assistance and support” in fostering positive relations and resolving any misunderstandings that may have arisen. It also urged Pittie to reopen EaseMyTrip flights to the Maldives. The letter comes as Maldivian President Mohammed Muizzu, during his visit on Tuesday, appealed to China to “intensify” efforts to send more tourists to his country following a diplomatic row.