Ruchika Jha

Post PM Modi’s Lakshadweep trip, EaseMyTrip halts Maldives bookings; celebs promote desi destinations

The company started the ‘Visit Lakshadweep’ campaign with the hashtag #ChaloLakshadweep.

EaseMyTrip, an Indian online travel company, has decided to suspend its flights to the Maldives. This decision was prompted by offensive comments made by certain now-suspended ministers directed towards India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Lakshadweep. Additionally, the company has launched the Visit Lakshadweep campaign with the hashtag #ChaloLakshadweep.

Nishant Pitti, co-founder, EaseMyTrip, took to X (formerly Twitter) and said that the company has suspended all flight booking services for Maldives.

“EaseMyTrip, a proud Indian company, prioritises national interest over business. We have suspended Maldives flight bookings in support of the government, impacting 2.4 lakh annual bookings made through our platform."

Despite a 40% surge in Maldives bookings last year, the company has redirected its focus to Lakshadweep, introducing travel and vacation packages to promote bookings.

"We have introduced Lakshadweep as our premier destination, on par with international favourites, and wish to enter into an alliance with Lakshadweep Tourism to promote the destination. We have introduced enticing packages crafted to elevate travel experience and discover the allure of Lakshadweep like never before,” he adds.

As per Asian News International (ANI), Prashant Pitti, the co-founder counterpart of the online travel company, says, "...Our company is entirely homegrown and made in India. Amid the row over Maldives MP's post on PM Modi's visit to Lakshadweep, we have decided that we will not accept any bookings for Maldives...We want Ayodhya and Lakshadweep to turn out as international destinations..."

Another prominent Indian online travel company, MakeMyTrip, announced that it observed a 3400% surge in on-platform searches for Lakshadweep post the PM’s visit.

In the midst of the tensions between India and Maldives, the hashtag #BoycottMaldives has gained considerable traction on social media, leading Indian tourists to cancel their planned vacations to the island nation. Netizens expressed their outrage on all social media platforms urging everyone to cancel their travel plans for Maldives.

Celebrities show love to desi destinations

Bollywood celebrities including Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Randeep Hooda, Ranveer Singh, Salman Khan, and Shraddha Kapoor have come forward to extend their support to Indian islands on X with the hashtag #ExploreIndianIslands.

Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan and revered cricket icons Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have also endorsed lesser-explored Indian islands, encouraging people to explore these tourist destinations.

On January 7, 2024, the Maldivian government suspended three deputy ministers within the youth ministry: Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna, and Abdulla Mahzoom Majid. This decision was a response to derogatory social media posts made against Prime Minister Modi. The posts triggered considerable backlash, prompting India to raise the issue strongly with the Malé authorities.

The Prime Minister's visit to the Union Territory drastically changed Google Trends. Following the controversy, 'Lakshadweep' quickly became the most searched term on Google in India, with over 50,000 users searching for it on January 5. 'Lakshadweep' continued to hold the top position as Google's most-searched keyword for two days amid the viral trend urging the boycott of Maldives.

90-day Google Trends chart depicting an increase in searches for Lakshadweep
90-day Google Trends chart depicting an increase in searches for Lakshadweep

The prime minister shared details of his visit to the island on social media, expressing his awe at the breathtaking beauty of Lakshadweep's islands and the remarkable warmth exhibited by its people.

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