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India Unveils Tourism, Connectivity Projects in Lakshadweep Amid Maldives Row

India plans new airport for military and civil aircraft operations in Lakshadweep
India plans new airport for military and civil aircraft operations in Lakshadweep - Sputnik India, 1920, 01.02.2024
New Delhi has been actively promoting Lakshadweep Islands as a global tourist destination after Prime Minister Modi paid a visit to the Arabian Sea archipelago last month.
Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the government would be taking up infrastructure and connectivity projects on the Lakshadweep Islands to address a growing demand for domestic tourism in the country.

"To address the emerging fervour for domestic tourism, projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities will be taken up on our islands, including Lakshadweep. This will help in generating employment also," Sitharaman said in her speech for Interim Budget 2024-25 in the Parliament on Thursday.

The announcement comes against the backdrop of a diplomatic row between India and the Maldives triggered by the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the islands, which are India's smallest Union Territory, last month.
Modi's statement that India was involved in efforts to "position Lakshadweep prominently on the international tourism map" didn't go down well with several ministers of the Mohamed Muizzu administration, who made derogatory references against India and the Indian leader.
While the ministers have since been suspended and the Muizzu administration has distanced itself from the comments, the row has triggered widespread boycott calls against Maldives in India.
India ranked as the top source of tourists for the Maldives in 2022-23, according to official data.

However, statistics from the Maldivian tourism ministry cited by media last month revealed that Indian tourist arrivals have dropped to fifth position in a matter of three weeks since the diplomatic row between the two nations broke out earlier last month.

In a bid to offset for declining tourism revenue from India, Muizzu has urged Chinese tourists to "reclaim" their pre-Covid top position in the Maldivian market during a recent state visit to China.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldives’ President Mohamed Muizzu held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai on Thursday. - Sputnik India, 1920, 15.01.2024
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