India, previously the primary source of tourists for the Maldives since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, has dropped to the sixth position on the Maldives’ list of top tourist source markets. This development transpires in the context of intensifying diplomatic discord between the two countries.

In 2023, the Maldives welcomed 209,198 Indian tourists. However, the current year has witnessed a marked downturn, with a mere 28,017 Indian visitors recorded until 5 March, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Previously holding the fifth position, India has been surpassed by Germany, which has reported 28,674 arrivals as of 5 March. Despite the decrease in Indian tourists, the Maldives has experienced an overall surge in visitors, with 443,128 tourists. This figure marks a significant increase from the 350,414 tourists recorded during January through February 2023.

China continues to dominate as the top source market for the Maldives this year, with 55,641 tourists visiting as of 5 March, accounting for 12.6 percent of the market share. Before the global health crisis, China was the Maldives’ largest tourism market. However, the pandemic-induced cessation of international travel and border closures substantially altered tourism patterns. As the world gradually recovers, China has swiftly regained its leading position this year.

Russia and Italy follow China closely, with 43,382 and 42,484 tourists, respectively. The United Kingdom holds fourth place with 39,960 visitors, followed by Germany, which took over the fifth spot from India. Other countries on the top ten source market lists include France, the United States, Poland, and Switzerland.

The decline in Indian tourists comes at a critical juncture. For the past three years, India has been the top source market for tourists to the Maldives, with over 200,000 visitors annually. The ongoing diplomatic tensions between India and the Maldives escalated earlier this year, with Indians intensifying a social media campaign to boycott the Maldivian.