‘Boycott Maldives’ now trends on social media
Boycott Maldives trended on social media following the furore over Maldivian ministers ridiculing PM Narendra Modi, potentially hitting the Maldives’s tourism-dependent economy. Experts warn of the possibility of “weaponisation of tourism” against the pro-China dispensation in Male. Indian celebrities, including Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, and Aakash Chopra, urged Indians to explore destinations within India. I&B minister Anurag Thakur encouraged people to explore the country’s tourist destinations, while Tendulkar reminisced about his experience in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg.
PM Narendra Modi with Maldives Prez Mohamed Muizzu during a recent meet. As ‘boycott Maldives’ trended, many see signs of the possibility of ‘weaponisation of tourism’ against Male. (Photo/ Agencies)
NEW DELHI: In what could potentially hit the Maldives’s tourism-dependent economy hard, there was a clamour on social media Sunday to boycott the picturesque islands and opt, instead, for Indian ones following the furore over some Maldivian ministers ridiculing PM Narendra Modi.
As ‘boycott Maldives’ trended on social media, celebs such as actors Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan and ex-cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Aakash Chopra urged Indians to explore destinations within the country.
With I&B minister Anurag Thakur joining in and exhorting people to explore the country’s tourist destinations and saying Modi’s pictures of Lakshadweep were making waves, many saw signs of, as an expert said, the possibility of “weaponisation of tourism” against the pro-China dispensation in Male. “To all the youth of my country, travel enthusiasts and explorers, I urge you to first explore your own country, witness the beauty of your own land and the diverse culture and cuisine we have,” Thakur posted on X.
Earnings from tourism, with increasingly prosperous India accounting for the biggest chunk of footfalls, account for a huge part of Maldives’s economy. The Maldives and Lakshadweep are just 100km apart and share similar beaches and climate.
The Maldives “suspended” three ministers for their comments but the damage seemed to have been done as was evident from the calls to visit Indian tourist destinations. Tendulkar joined the campaign and reminisced about his experience in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg: “250+ days since we rang in my 50th birthday in Sindhudurg. The coastal town offered everything we wanted, and more. Gorgeous locations combined with wonderful hospitality left us with a treasure trove of memories. India is blessed with beautiful coastlines and pristine islands. With our ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ philosophy, we have so much to explore, so many memories waiting to be created.”
“Came across comments from prominent public figures from Maldives passing hateful and racist comments on Indians. Surprised they are doing this to a country that sends them the maximum number of tourists. We are good to our neighbours but why should we tolerate such unprovoked hate? I’ve visited the Maldives many times and always praised it, but dignity first. Let us decide to explore Indian islands and support our tourism,” Akshay Kumar said. As per the Maldives tourism department, the highest number of tourists visiting the country in 2023 were from India, followed by Russia and China. A total of 17,57,939 tourists arrived in the island nation till December 13, an increase of 12.6% compared to the 1.5 million arrivals recorded in 2022. The largest number of tourists were from India (2,09,198), followed by Russia (2,09,146) and China (1,87,118).
The trigger for the latest controversy seems to be the surge in interest in Lakshadweep after Modi’s visit. Actor Salman Khan hailed the PM’s pictures and said, “It is so cool to see our PM Narendrabhai Modi at the beautiful clean and stunning beaches of Lakshadweep, and the best part is that ‘yeh hamare India mein hain’.” John Abraham praised the hospitality and marine life in Lakshadweep. “With the amazing Indian hospitality, the idea of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ and a vast marine life to explore. Lakshwadeep is the place to go,” he wrote. Actress Shraddha Kapoor too expressed a desire to explore Lakshadweep.
Article source: indiatimes.com