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Maldives helps promote Lakshadweep as an alternative to the Maldives.

Updated: Jan 8, 2024. Walter Ray.
Maldives helps promote Lakshadweep as an alternative to the Maldives. - Cover Image
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The Maldives has always been renowned for its breathtaking beaches, idyllic islands, luxurious resorts, and a magnet for celebrities from around the world seeking the ultimate vacation experience.

However, until recently, few considered India’s Lakshadweep islands as a viable alternative to the Maldives. In fact, even most Indian tourists never thought of Lakshadweep islands and an alternate to the islands on the Maldives.

While equally beautiful and tourist-friendly, Lakshadweep lacked the popularity of its Maldivian counterpart.

But everything changed in just one day.

It all began uneventfully with a tweet by India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi. He shared a few pictures from Lakshadweep, and encouraged Indians to explore the island. Interestingly, there was no mention or reference to the Maldives in his tweet.

Nevertheless, some social media users in the Maldives inexplicably felt threatened by this and launched an online hate campaign targeting not only Prime Minister Modi but also Lakshadweep and Indians as a whole.

The situation escalated when three ministers from the Maldivian government joined this social media war and made derogatory remarks about Mr. Modi, and his photos. Their lack of diplomacy skills or understanding of social media etiquette became glaringly obvious.

Unfortunately, pseudo-nationalism has become an easy ploy utilized by politicians worldwide to secure votes during elections.

Predictably, the debate quickly devolved into racism. Prominent Indian celebrities and influencers rightfully condemned these comments made by some individuals from the Maldives (it is important to note that it was not representative of all Maldivians). Ironically, many of these Indian celebrities were frequent visitors to the Maldives themselves.

However, these ministers faced relentless criticism from the opposition party in the Maldives and were eventually dismissed from their positions.

Ironically, this entire fiasco had unintended consequences for the Maldives.

The outcome is not what the Maldives would have expected or wanted.

According to a report by The Times of India, Indian tourists made up 11% of all international visitors who traveled to the Maldives in 2023. This percentage was higher than that of tourists from any other nation.

India and the Maldives have always enjoyed friendly relations, with a significant number of Indian tourists visiting the Maldives regularly. Indians have perceived the Maldives as a friendly country with welcoming people and exceptional resorts.

However, this incident has changed that perception for many Indians, for good.

In the minds of social media users following this story, the Maldives now appears to be a country with plenty of racist people who do not consider India as a friend.

Consequently, many Indian celebrities and individuals have canceled their plans to visit the Maldives. In fact, one travel company in India went so far as to stop selling tickets to the Maldives on their website (although this may just be a marketing strategy).

Numerous celebrities have publicly declared that they will now choose Lakshadweep over the Maldives for their next vacation destination. While such statements may not always hold true in the long run, this controversy has crossed too many boundaries for people to simply forget.

Maldives helps bring Lakshadweep islands to the forefront.

Amidst this unfortunate turn of events, the Maldives inadvertently brought Lakshadweep islands into the spotlight.

Prior to this hate campaign initiated by some individuals from the Maldives and fueled by certain ministers, Prime Minister Modi’s original tweet promoting domestic tourism would have likely been forgotten within a few days or weeks at most.

However, at least for tourists from India, now Lakshadweep has gained prominence as a potential alternative to the Maldives. Undoubtedly, there is still much development and infrastructure needed in Lakshadweep in order for it to become the preferred island destination.

Lakshadweep Islands

Yet, given the interest generated by this controversy, it wouldn’t be surprising if IHG, Marriott, Hilton, and other hospitality giants are already exploring opportunities for resorts in Lakshadweep.

Let’s hope that both countries can find common ground and rebuild their relationship for mutual benefit and shared prosperity in the future.

There are enough tourists in the world to cater to both — Lakshadweep, and the Maldives.

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