Sunday, May 19, 2024

Maldives President Begs China to Send More Tourists to Maldives

During his visit, Muizzu expressed his administration's commitment to diversify the Maldives' economic base and strengthen the tourism industry.


January 10, 2024 : In the midst of a diplomatic crisis with India and a decline in tourist arrivals, Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu requested China to boost tourism efforts during his state visit to the country.

Addressing the Maldives Business Forum in Fujian Province, Muizzu emphasized China’s role as one of their “closest” allies and development partners. He commended Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, stating they delivered significant infrastructure projects in the Maldives.

Muizzu urged China to intensify efforts to send more tourists to the Maldives, citing the country’s previous position as their number one market before the COVID-19 pandemic. The appeal comes after a diplomatic blunder with India, resulting from derogatory remarks by Maldivian ministers against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In an effort to strengthen ties, it was reported that both countries signed a USD 50 million project to develop an integrated tourism zone in the Indian Ocean island.

The appeal for increased Chinese tourism coincides with the expulsion of three deputy ministers for disparaging social media posts against Prime Minister Modi. The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) strongly condemned the comments.

Data from the Maldives Tourism Ministry revealed that India remained the largest tourist market in 2023, with 209,198 arrivals, followed by Russia and China. In 2022, India also held the top spot, with 240,000 arrivals.

China, once the leading source of tourists before the pandemic, has struggled to revive its tourism industry due to a prolonged lockdown policy and economic slowdown. Chinese tourists, who previously traveled in millions, are now limiting their overseas trips.

During his visit, Muizzu expressed his administration’s commitment to diversify the Maldives’ economic base and strengthen the tourism industry. He highlighted the importance of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed with China, aiming to boost bilateral trade, particularly in fish product exports.

The FTA, signed in 2014, symbolizes the close commercial ties between the two countries. Despite being signed during the presidency of Abdulla Yameen, it was not implemented by his successor, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

In addition to tourism, Muizzu sought investments from Chinese companies for various projects, including the relocation of the Male Commercial Port, Velana International Airport development, construction of 15 airports, and the expansion of Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

After concluding his visit to Fujian, Muizzu is set to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Ke Qiang in Beijing, aiming to strengthen collaboration and convey the government’s priorities for enhanced cooperation with China.

The Indian Bugle
The Indian Bugle
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