The Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) is set to organise roadshows in several key cities across India. This initiative emerges in the wake of a significant dip in Indian tourist arrivals to the Maldives, catalysed by a series of unfavourable social media comments about India and its Prime Minister by Maldivian government officials.

Discussions aimed at enhancing tourism cooperation took place between MATATO and Munu Mahawar, the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives. The meeting, hosted at the Indian High Commission in the Maldives, underscored the mutual interest in boosting travel and tourism between the two nations.

Following these discussions, MATATO outlined plans to execute comprehensive roadshows in India and to arrange influencer and media familiarisation trips to the Maldives in the upcoming months. These efforts are aimed at revitalising the Maldivian tourism sector, which has seen India’s position as a top source market for visitors slip from first to sixth place since January this year, as per reports from the Maldives Ministry of Tourism.

The decline in Indian tourists’ arrivals came after three government officials made derogatory remarks about India and its Prime Minister on social media platforms, following a social media post by the Prime Minister showcasing the Lakshadweep Islands. The incident led to widespread cancellations by Indian tourists, including celebrities, and cast a shadow over the Maldives’ reputation as a favoured holiday destination among Indians.

In response to the current situation, MATATO emphasised the critical importance of the Indian market for Maldivian tourism and expressed its commitment to working closely with the Indian High Commission in Maldives. The association aims to forge partnerships with leading travel associations and industry stakeholders across India to promote the Maldives as a prime travel destination.