India-Maldives Tensions Spark Boycott, Review-Bombing of Maldivian Resorts
The ongoing diplomatic tension between India and the Maldives has escalated to a new level, with Indians intensifying their social media campaign to boycott Maldivian tourism. This backlash has seen a significant downturn in the ratings of Maldivian resorts on Google and booking websites, reflecting the souring sentiment.
The diplomatic row – instigated by derogatory comments on a social media post by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who released a promotional video of his recent visit to Lakshadweep, aiming to boost tourism in the region – has escalated to unprecedented heights.
The situation reached a critical juncture when Indian celebrities and the public alike started advocating against holidaying in the Maldives. Influential Bollywood stars have expressed their reluctance to visit a nation they feel does not respect their country. A vigorous campaign is underway to promote Lakshadweep as a holiday destination, diverting potential tourists from the Maldives.
The boycott campaign has led to a drastic decline in the ratings of Maldivian resorts, as they have become targets of coordinated review-bombing by Indian social media activists.
The impact is evident in the sudden drop in star ratings for high-end resorts, a crucial factor in influencing future tourist decisions. Maldivian resort websites have also faced cyber attacks, following similar incidents targeting the Maldivian President’s Office, Foreign Ministry, and Tourism Ministry.
In response to these developments, the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) has initiated a survey to gauge the impact of the boycott on hotel reservations.
MATATO’s survey covers various aspects, including hotel information, cancellation statistics, reasons for booking cancellation, impact on revenue, future outlook, communication and public relations, and recommendations.
This boycott comes at a critical time as India has been the top source market for tourists to the Maldives for the past three years, with over 200,000 visitors annually. The current situation poses a significant threat to the Maldivian tourism industry, a key pillar of the nation’s economy.
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