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‘Insta destination’ likely to see fewer Indian tourists, warn travel agencies | India News

by Staff
NEW DELHI: The backlash against Maldivian politicians’ “derogatory” remarks about PM Narendra Modi’s Lakshadweep trip may have more than temporarily dented the island nation’s allure as an Insta-worthy destination for potential visitors, say travel operators as they brace for last year’s Indian tourist tsunami to reduce to a trickle.
Although there isn’t data on cancellations, if any, travel agencies and airlines believe the trend will become clear over the next few days.
“People in office should keep Indian sensitivities in mind while making comments as there could be an impact,” said Anil Kalsi, VP of Travel Agents’ Federation of India.
Indian tourists constituted the largest chunk of visitors to the Maldives till December 2023, according to the island nation’s tourism ministry. Of the 17.5 lakh tourists it hosted last year, 2.09 lakh were Indians. Russia was a close second, followed by China. Almost all Indian airlines have flights to Male from various cities.
Since the pandemic, India has emerged as the largest source of tourists for many destinations abroad. For Maldives, things could change drastically with Indian celebrities either joining the boycott call or promoting desi destinations like Lakshadweep as alternatives.
“Maldives had emerged as a go-to Insta destination for aspirational Indians, reflected in holiday pictures posted on the online platform. Indian celebrities have been charging hefty sums since late 2020 to promote high-end resorts there or the tourism board,” said a travel industry official. “Given that #Maldives is trending for the wrong reasons, visitors from India may not want to post their sunbathing-in-Maldives pictures online. You can go quietly and not make a splash about your trip, but that may not appeal to many.”On the controversial comment about “smelly” hotel rooms in India, a travel agent pointed out that India’s biggest hospitality player operates two high-end resorts in Maldives.
“PM Modi was only promoting tourism in Lakshadweep during his visit there last week, just like he does for several other destinations in his inimitable style. There was no need or justification for some politicians in Maldives to react the way they did. Now they must be ready for the fallout.”

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