India tourists heading to rival destinations over Maldives

Indian tourists, to a large extent, is preferring Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius and Seychelles over Maldives following the political turmoil in the island nation.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed as the apex court rejected the government's 'legal and judicial' concerns over the order.

Several countries including India, US, UK and China have issued varying degrees of travel advisories to their citizens following the turmoil in the luxury tropical island destination.

The tourism industry has suffered in the wake of the state of emergency with quickly falling occupancy rates.

According to the reports, there was a fall in tourist arrival to the country even after the government of Maldives has assured the safety and security of the travellers.

“Travellers are preferring newer options for short-haul destinations in light of the unrest in the Maldives, and the travel advisories issued by various tourism boards,” said Ankit Rastogi, Cleartrip’s Vice President for hotels.

“Over 20 per cent increase in booking has recorded in Malaysia and Phuket in Thailand considering the Maldivian political insurgency,” a senior official in the travel and tourism sector.

The industry had warned that the state of emergency could cost the country millions.

However, despite the obvious damage to the linchpin of the island nation's economy, president Yameen on Tuesday through the government controlled parliament extended the state of emergency by another 30 days.

The latest report comes after an analysis by Moody's warned that the state of emergency would hinder tourist arrivals, a key driver of the economy and a prolonged crisis would inhibit investment inflow,

"If tourists are deterred from travelling to Maldives for a prolonged period, the crisis will reduce growth and prompt us to revise down our current forecasts of 4.5 per cent real GDP growth in 2018. Tourism accounts for one-third of economic output," the report said.

The report said an immediate effect of political developments would be on tourist arrivals.

"Some countries, notably India, China, Singapore and the UK, already have issued travel advisories recommending avoidance of all but essential travel to Maldives. The US since January has had Maldives on a Level 2 travel advisory, which recommends that tourists exercise caution owing to terrorism risks," it said.

In 2017, tourist arrivals increased 8 per cent. More than 44 per cent of total tourist arrivals in 2017 were from Asia, with Chinese tourists accounting for 22 per cent of the total.