Maldivian President Urges China to Boost Tourism Amid Diplomatic Row

Maldivian President urges China for increased tourism amid a diplomatic row with India. Despite recent controversies, the focus remains on strengthening economic ties, implementing the Free Trade Agreement, and seeking Chinese investments for key infrastructure projects.
China - Maldives - Modi - India
China - Maldives - Modi - India
Maldives Seeks Closer Ties with China Amid Indian Tourist Cancellations

In a bid to offset the recent decline in Indian tourists following a diplomatic dispute, Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu has appealed to China to ramp up efforts in sending more tourists to the island nation. The call was made during his second day of a five-day state visit to China, where he described China as the Maldives' "closest" ally.


Praise for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Projects

Muizzu lauded the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, stating that they have delivered the most significant infrastructure projects in Maldivian history. He urged China to increase the flow of Chinese tourists to the Maldives, emphasizing China's crucial role as the country's top tourism market before the COVID-19 pandemic.

$50 Million Tourism Zone Project Signed

Reports indicate that China and the Maldives have signed a $50 million project aimed at developing an integrated tourism zone in the Indian Ocean island. This agreement comes at a time when the Maldives is actively seeking Chinese investments to boost its tourism sector.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizu
Maldives President Mohamed Muizu

Diplomatic Row and Social Media Fallout

The appeal for more Chinese tourists follows derogatory remarks made by some Maldivian ministers against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In response, Muizzu's government suspended three deputy ministers for their social media posts, and the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) strongly condemned the comments.

India Remains Top Tourism Market Despite Recent Decline

Despite the recent decline in Indian tourists, India has remained the largest tourist market for the Maldives in 2023, with 209,198 arrivals. Russia and China follow closely in second and third places, respectively. Before the pandemic, China held the top spot with over 280,000 tourists.

Muizzu's Visit to China and Economic Focus

President Muizzu's visit to China includes high-level meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Ke Qiang. Described as a pro-China politician, Muizzu expressed his administration's commitment to diversifying the Maldives' economic base and strengthening ties with China. He emphasized the quick implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in 2014, highlighting its significance in enhancing bilateral trade and investments.

Seeking Chinese Investments for Key Projects

Muizzu also sought investments from Chinese companies for 11 projects, including the relocation of the Male Commercial Port, Velana International Airport development, construction of 15 additional airports, and the expansion of Special Economic Zones (SEZ). These projects are expected to contribute to the economic growth and development of the Maldives.


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