Sri Lanka witnesses an influx of Indian tourists post India-Maldives’ diplomatic row

  • Reading time:3 mins read
  • Post author:

In January 2024, a diplomatic spat between India and the Maldives caused Indian tourists to divert their travel preferences towards Sri Lanka, resulting in Sri Lanka surpassing the Maldives in tourist arrivals for the month. The rift arose from contentious remarks by Maldivian officials against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India, prompting Indian tourists to initiate a ‘boycott Maldives’ movement. Consequently, Sri Lanka experienced a significant surge in tourist arrivals, predominantly led by Indian travelers.

The increase in Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka was cited as a key factor contributing to the surge in tourist arrivals. The number of Indian arrivals more than doubled from 13,759 in January of the previous year to 34,399 in January 2024. Conversely, the Maldives witnessed a decline in Indian tourist numbers, dropping from 17,029 to 15,006 during the same period.

Indian tourists are drawn to Sri Lanka for several reasons. Firstly, the diplomatic dispute between India and the Maldives prompted Indian travelers to explore alternative destinations, leading to a preference shift towards Sri Lanka. Additionally, Sri Lanka boasts a diverse array of attractions, including stunning beaches, rich cultural heritage, and picturesque landscapes, making it an appealing destination for Indian tourists seeking leisure and exploration.

Moreover, Sri Lanka’s proximity to India and the ease of travel, along with improved connectivity through direct flights, have facilitated increased tourist arrivals from India. Sri Lanka’s hospitality sector has also actively promoted the country as a tourist-friendly destination, offering various amenities and experiences tailored to the preferences of Indian travelers, such as culinary tours, wellness retreats, and cultural festivals.

In January, India emerged as the top source market for tourists to Sri Lanka, while its ranking in the Maldives dropped to fifth place. The top source markets for tourists visiting the Maldives in January were Russia, Italy, China, and the UK, with India falling to fifth place. Despite consistently surpassing 200,000 Indian tourist arrivals annually in the Maldives post-Covid over the past three years, there has been a recent decline, with only 13,989 Indian tourists recorded in January 2024.

Event Sequence

January 2024 Diplomatic dispute between India and Maldives
January 2024 Indian tourists shift preferences towards Sri Lanka
January 2024 Sri Lanka surpasses Maldives in tourist arrivals for the month
January 2024 Surge in tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka, led by Indian travelers
January 2024 Indian tourists initiate ‘boycott Maldives’ movement
January 2024 Sri Lanka experiences significant increase in tourist arrivals
January 2024 Number of Indian arrivals in Sri Lanka more than doubles compared to previous year
January 2024 Decline in Indian tourist numbers in Maldives
January 2024 Indian tourists flock to Sri Lanka due to diplomatic dispute and attraction of various amenities
January 2024 Sri Lanka emerges as preferred destination for Indian tourists
January 2024 India becomes top source market for tourists to Sri Lanka
January 2024 India slips to fifth place as source market for tourists to Maldives
January 2024 Decline in Indian tourist arrivals in Maldives