Maldives responds on India's tourism warning

Maldives has responded to India government's claims of the island nation squeezing visa permits.

Several tourism industry associated acts have confirmed Indian tourists do not face visa issues from Maldives.

According to various sources, Maldives immigration has put a squeeze on granting work permits to Indians since March this year.

Indian media had reported that while round 29,000 Indians live and work in the Maldives, and an estimated 2,000 have pending applications for work permits.

Several India media reports say that India is continuing to take up with Maldives the cases of denial of work visas to Indians.

"We are doing whatever is necessary to persuade them, to explain to them, to work with them, that those visas are issued. The denial of visa cannot be countered by any forceful intervention," an Indian government official was quoted.

"What can be done, we are doing. We are also working with other countries to suggest that it will affect tourism arrivals into Maldives."

Maldives immigration has repeatedly denied the reports insisting that there has not been any such directive to withhold work visa for Indians adding that the department had not received any complaints.

Meanwhile an owner of one of the largest travel agencies in the country has claimed more than 50 tourists have visited from India in past three months without any hindrances on their visa proceedings.

"That's a blatant lie, Indian tourists visiting Maldives do not face visa issues. None has been even reported so far," the owner under anonymity said.

One of the largest contributor on bringing Indian tourists to Maldives resorts, Villa Hotels Group's general manager Qaisar Naseem echoed a similar statement.

Bilateral ties between the two countries had soured after Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdulla Gayoom in February declared state of emergency following an order by the country’s Supreme Court to release a group of opposition leaders convicted in widely criticised trials.