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Business News/ News / World/  Indian vs Chinese tourists in Maldives: The rise and fall in last 10 years
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Indian vs Chinese tourists in Maldives: The rise and fall in last 10 years

In 2020, China had an 18.31% share among ‘Top Ten Markets Arrivals’ in the Maldives, the highest that year. However, India grabbed the third spot with a 7.99% share. It was after 2020 that the Maldives saw an increase in arrivals from India.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu speaks during a plenary session at the COP28 UN Climate Summit on December 1, 2023, in Dubai. (AP)Premium
Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu speaks during a plenary session at the COP28 UN Climate Summit on December 1, 2023, in Dubai. (AP)

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu on Tuesday urged China to "intensify" efforts to send more tourists to the island nation. Muizzu's statement came amid the "Boycott Maldives" calls in India after a few Maldives politicians mocked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his Lakshadweep visit.

Notably, Indians were only second to Russia in the chart showing tourist arrivals in the Maldives by nationality in January-November 2023. India was among the largest tourist markets for the Maldives in 2023. However, tourism from China significantly increased from January 2023 to November 2023.

According to the data released by the Maldives' Ministry of Tourism, as many as 20,966 Russian residents visited the island nation, while 17,029 Indian residents visited it in January 2023. China was not among the top 10 countries in January 2023 statistics. This data was specific to "the arrivals by country of residence". 

However, the total arrivals by people of Indian “nationality" between January and November declined by around 12 per cent in 2023, as compared to the arrivals in the same period in 2022. Despite this, India maintained its position at the second spot after Russia. However, China secured the third spot in the November 2023 report published by the Maldives' Ministry of Tourism. 

ALSO READ: India-Maldives ties under stress: What trade, tourism data shows

However, India has not always topped the chart when it comes to Maldives tourism. Before 2020, people from China were leading the tourism charts in the Maldives. The increase in arrivals from India started in 2020, as compared to that from China.

In 2014, "China remained the number one market, strengthening its hold on the position accounting for more than one-fourth of total arrivals to the country," the Maldives said in its tourism Yearbook 2015.

Indian vs Chinese tourists in Maldives | IN DATA

 

Year/CountryChinaIndia
2014363,62645,587
2015359,51452,368
2016324,32666,955
2017306,53083,019
2018283,11690,474
2019284,029166,030
202034,24562,960
20212,238291,787
202212,764241,382
2023187,118209,198

According to another report by the Maldives government, India remained in the fifth position, "spiralling positive figures for the year 2018". The official report said, "The top 10 markets by the end of 2018 were, China (19.1%), Germany (7.9%), UK (7.7%), Italy (7.1%), India (6.1%), Russia (4.8%), France (3.4%), Japan (2.9%), USA (2.9%), and Australia (2.5%)."

ALSO READ: Maldives have gone from a beach resort to a worry spot for India

In 2020, China had an 18.31% share among "Top Ten Markets Arrivals" in Maldives, the highest that year. However, India grabbed the third spot with a 7.99% share. It was after 2020 that Maldives saw an increase in arrivals from India.

Here's a chart showing the subsequent rise and fall in the number of tourists from India and China visiting Maldives in the past 10 years.

 

Source: Maldives government
View Full Image
Source: Maldives government

As the India-Maldives controversy continued this week a social media post highlighted how the Maldives may have experienced a shift in the tourists because of the changing governments.

The current Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, who took charge in 2023, is regarded as a pro-China politician in the Maldives. The previous government led by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (2018-2013) was deemed to be close to India. Before Solih, the Abdulla Yameen-led government in the Maldives was also said to have a "reputation as more diplomatically aligned with India’s rival, China", the Diplomat reported. And hence, the shift in the tourism dynamics.

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Published: 10 Jan 2024, 06:21 AM IST
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