A Maldivian minister acknowledges that its pilots are incapable of operating an aircraft that India has provided.

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister, Harin Fernando, has pointed out the positive impact of calls for Indian travellers to boycott the Maldives on Sri Lanka’s travel industry. Fernando expressed that the ongoing situation in the Maldives has inadvertently benefited Sri Lanka’s tourism sector, speaking to CNBC on Thursday.

Referencing a social media dispute in January that led to a significant decline in Indian visitors to the Maldives this year, Fernando stated, “The Maldives issue is… helping us.” 

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Tourism highlighted that shift in travel patterns is evident, with India, once the largest source market for the Maldives in 2023, now ranking sixth behind countries such as China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany.

Highlighting the strong ties between Sri Lanka and India, both in business and tourism, Fernando emphasised the value proposition Sri Lanka offers Indian travellers. He pointed out the diverse attractions in Sri Lanka, including its beaches, casinos, shopping opportunities, and the Ramayana Trail, a series of sites linked to the ancient Hindu epic, Ramayana.

Fernando also acknowledged India’s growing influence in Sri Lankan travel sector, predicting that Indian travellers are poised to become the world’s fourth-largest spenders by 2030. This trend is seen as a significant boost for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, with Fernando noting the positive impact of India’s economic growth on the island nation.

Looking ahead, Fernando expressed optimism about attracting more global investments to Sri Lanka, drawing parallels to the Maldives’ renowned water bungalow concept. Plans are underway to introduce adventure activities to cater to younger travellers and initiatives to position Sri Lanka as an entertainment hub by hosting musical events to attract tourists.