MUMBAI- In the aftermath of statements made by some ministers from the Maldives criticizing Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, numerous Indians have utilized the microblogging platform X (formerly Twitter) to declare that they have canceled their flight and hotel reservations to the Maldives.
Those still eager to travel are now considering vacations in Lakshadweep, particularly after PM Modi’s recent visit to the archipelago.
India-Maldives Row: Travel Company Response
Even travel companies are responding to the sentiment. Nishant Pitti, the CEO and co-founder of travel booking platform EaseMyTrip, expressed solidarity with the nation, stating, “In solidarity with our nation, @EaseMyTrip has suspended all Maldives flight bookings.”
Tata SIA-owned Full-service carrier Vistara (UK) has announced its intention to assess the demand for flights between the two countries over the next week, emphasizing that the situation is currently evolving. Vistara presently operates one flight each day from Mumbai and Delhi to Male.
Speculation within the Twitter community suggests that over 7,500 hotel bookings in the Maldives and more than 2,300 flight tickets to the islands have been canceled.
The surge in anger and the trending #BoycottMaldives on X occurred following critical remarks by three deputy ministers from the Maldives against Modi.
These remarks came after Modi’s post on ‘X’ following his visit to Lakshadweep, leading to an interpretation that it aimed to promote the Union Territory as an alternative tourist destination to the Maldives.
Maldivian media reports indicate that the deputy ministers in the youth ministry, Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna, and Abdulla Mahzoom Majid, have been suspended from their positions due to their derogatory social media posts.
According to sources cited by the news agency PTI, the Maldivian envoy to India was summoned to the external affairs ministry on January 8, expressing strong concern over remarks against Modi by some Maldivian ministers.
Bollywood Celebs Supporting India
In the midst of this, several Bollywood celebrities, who had previously favored the Maldives as one of their preferred vacation spots, are now actively endorsing tourism in Lakshadweep.
Amitabh Bachchan, the megastar, praised the self-reliance of India while describing Lakshadweep and the Andamans as “astonishingly beautiful locations.”
Other celebrities, including Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Shraddha Kapoor, and veteran cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatesh Prasad, and Virender Sehwag, have also encouraged people to explore domestic islands.
Offering a light-hearted perspective on the controversy, comic actor Vir Das commented, “Firstly, happy Lakshadweep is getting some love! Secondly, Somewhere in the Maldives right now is an Indian celebrity/influencer, who didn’t eat carbs for two weeks, took the best vacation photos ever, and is TERRIFIED to post them” on the microblogging site.
Surge in Lakshadweep Tourism
MakeMyTrip reported a 3,400% increase in on-platform searches for Lakshadweep since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the islands.
“We’ve noticed a remarkable 3,400% surge in on-platform searches for Lakshadweep following the Prime Minister’s visit. This growing interest in Indian beaches has inspired us to initiate a ‘Beaches of India’ campaign on the platform, featuring offers and discounts to encourage Indian travelers to explore the country’s stunning coastal destinations,” stated MakeMyTrip in a social media post on platform X.
Earlier, Pitti expressed that the water and beaches of Lakshadweep rival those of the Maldives and Seychelles.
He tweeted on January 4, saying, “We at @EaseMyTrip will come up with crazy special offers to promote this pristine destination that our PM @narendramodi has recently visited!”
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