India-Maldives row: EaseMyTrip suspends all flight bookings to island nation over anti-PM Modi remarks

India-Maldivian politics, EaseMyTrip
Image Source : INDIA TV Maldivian politicians triggered a controversy by making disparaging remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a notable development amidst the boycott Maldives campaign online, EaseMyTrip has opted to halt all flight bookings to the island nation. This decision comes in response to derogatory comments made by certain now-suspended ministers against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi following his recent visit to Lakshadweep. 

EaseMyTrip stands in solidarity with India 

Standing in support of India, Nishant Pitti, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Indian online travel company, took to social media X, stating, “In solidarity with our nation, @EaseMyTrip has suspended all Maldives flight bookings.” Online travel solutions provider EaseMyTrip began visit Lakshadweep campaign by #ChaloLakshadweep. 

In his post on X, he said, “Water & beaches of Lakshadweep are as good as Maldives/Seychelles We at @EaseMyTrip will come up with crazy special-offers to promote this pristine destination that our PM @narendramodi has recently visited! (sic).

#BoycottMaldives gains traction on social media

Amidst an escalating row between India and the Maldives, the hashtag #BoycottMaldives gained momentum on social media, with Indian tourists cancelling their previously arranged trips to the island nation. The controversy arose when Maldivian politicians made derogatory comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and mocked his visit to Lakshadweep, portraying it as a tourist destination exclusive to Indians.

The Indian Association of Tour Operators anticipated that the boycott sentiment would manifest within the next 20-25 days. Several individuals on social media have asserted that they have indeed cancelled their planned vacations to the Maldives. “Suddenly, there has been no inquiry on Maldives. There are sudden drops. Those who have made payments will not cancel them. We are expecting that people will not book trips to the Maldives,” Rajiv Mehra, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, said.

Indian tourists topped visitor numbers to Maldives in 2023

Expressing a similar viewpoint, another operator emphasized that statements made by politicians have the potential to dissuade people from selecting a particular nation for their travels. The Maldives holds significant popularity among Indian tourists, being a favoured tourist destination. Data from the country’s tourism ministry till December 2023 reveals that Indian tourists constituted the highest number of visitors to the Maldives, totalling 2,09,198. This was followed by visitors from Russia at 2,09,146 and China at 1,87,118.

“Maldives is quite popular among Indians. But this incident will have an impact. We are also seeing an impact right now as well. We are expecting a downfall in people choosing the Maldives as a tourist destination,” a Delhi-based tour operator said on the condition of anonymity.

What led to the issue? 

It should be mentioned here that Maldives deputy cabinet ministers Mariyam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef, and Mahzoom Majid were suspended over their remarks against PM Modi, which triggered a massive backlash. Shiuna made derogatory remarks against PM Modi on social media platform X. The post by Shiuna, which has now been deleted, featured images of PM Modi from his recent visit to Lakshadweep. Following their remarks, the Maldives government suspended three ministers.

Meanwhile, as tensions between India and the Maldives heightened following disparaging comments about PM Modi, celebrities from the Indian film industry initiated a “visit Lakshadweep” campaign, using the hashtag #ExploreIndianIslands.

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