India and Russia send the most tourists to the Maldives, a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean with many luxury resorts. Tourism accounts for almost a third of the economy, according to the World Bank.

EaseMyTrip co-founder and Executive Director Prashant Pitti confirmed that bookings to the Maldives have been suspended "indefinitely".  Although New Delhi and Male have traditionally had close ties, relations have been strained since President Mohamed Muizzu came to power in November after winning elections on an 'India Out' campaign.

"We decided to take this step because any self-respecting nation should do so," Pitti told Reuters. The statements we heard from representatives of the Maldives government were extremely humiliating for the country." Pitti said EaseMyTrip is India's second largest online travel booking platform with 22 percent market share.

The Maldives government dismissed deputy ministers Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna and Abdulla Mahzoom Majid for calling Modi a "clown", "terrorist" and "Israel's puppet" on social media platform X. Many Indians, including some celebrities, shared social media posts promoting domestic destinations in response to the Maldives.

Maldives' biggest foreign exchange earnings come from tourism, with India and Russia sending about 209,000 tourists last year. Maldives is targeting 2 million arrivals for 2024.