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Please be part of our tourism: Muizzu's pro-China Maldives govt minister to Indian tourists
Photo credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons

Please be part of our tourism: Muizzu's pro-China Maldives govt minister to Indian tourists

| @indiablooms | 07 May 2024, 12:22 am

Male/New Delhi/IBNS: Amid souring of ties with New Delhi over its "India Out" campaign and pro-China approach, Maldives Tourism Minister Ibrahim Faisal has urged Indian tourists to not shun the archipelagic, heavily tourism-dependent country in the Indian Ocean.

“We have a history. Our newly elected government also wants to work together (with India). We always promote peace and a friendly environment," said Faisal speaking to PTI Videos.

"Our people and the government will give a warm welcome to Indian arrivals. As the Tourism Minister, I want to tell Indians to please be a part of Maldives’ tourism. Our economy depends on tourism,” said the minister of Maldives, known for its crystal clear waters and white sand beaches.

During the pandemic, there was a beeline of Indian tourists to Maldives, which was open to tourism despite the Covid-related restrictions worldwide.

However, diplomatic tensions reached a flashpoint last year between the two countries over remarks made by some Maldives ministers against Indian PM Narendra Modi's visit to Lakshadweep, to promote the Indian Union Territory having the potential to compete with tourism major Maldives.

Last month, pro-China Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu's People’s National Congress (PNC) took control of the Parliament by winning the election clinching over 60 of the total 93 seats, highlighting the Island Nation's further tilt towards India's hostile rival China.

The Maldives, which comprises some 1,192 tiny coral islands scattered across 800 kilometres (500 miles) on the equator, is considered as one of the top beach destinations in the world.

Apart from its scenic beauty, the country is known for its luxury hotels and water villas.

The pro-China Maldivian President faced massive domestic criticism for his anti-India stance as the main opposition parties of the country, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Democrats, slammed Muizzu for distancing from India, the island nation's "most long-standing ally " and source of tourists.

Besides expressing concern over the new foreign policy of Muizzu-led government in Maldives, the opposition parties took to the street in January in protest.

After Muizzu set a March 15 deadline for Indian military personnel to withdraw from the islands, India has begun pulling out.

Muizzu has spelt out that no Indian military personnel, not even those in civilian clothing, would be allowed inside his country after May 10. Muizzu asked India to withdraw 90-odd military personnel from the Maldives.

India has agreed to replace the military personnel with civilians and to continue the operations of two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft provided to the country for  humanitarian and medical evacuation services, media reports said.

Indian military personnel were sent to the Maldives at various times for training Maldivian troops, in both combat and reconnaissance and rescue-aid operations.

Muizzu alleged that his predecessor had compromised on national sovereignty by allowing India troops in the Maldivian islands.

However, the pro-China Maldives President has recently struck a reconciliatory tone and said India will continue to remain his country's closest ally as he had to urge New Delhi to provide debt relief to the country.


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