Kerala looks to West Asia, China to revive tourism

Kerala Tourism plans to concentrate on China, followed by West Asia, Russia, East Asia and Australia, said Rani George, Tourism Secretary. This will be a detour from its traditional markets such as the UK, the US and Europe.

The State’s tourism sector, which provided a revenue of around ₹34,000 crore last year, and contributes around 10 per cent to the State GDP, had suffered a loss of ₹1,500 crore in the floods that wreaked havoc in the State, George pointed out.

Number of arrivals

Asked about the contribution of the tourism sector vis-a-vis other sectors in alleviating the ramifications of the floods, George explained that the tourism sector will be able to contribute to the GDP of the State by increasing the number of arrivals, with tourism being a major source of income after the Malayali diaspora.

“With the increase in the number of arrivals, the economy will also benefit. The tourism sectors includes hoteliers, home-stay owners, taxi drivers, auto drivers, auto drivers, shop owners, people who sell souvenirs and a lot more. All these people will benefit from the arrival of tourists and from this, all these sectors will also benefit,” she explained.

Revival efforts

In line with this is the survey by the Responsible Tourism Mission of the sector and the Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies (KITTS) to identify who all from the flood affected areas can be employed in the hospitality sector. Another future step includes an increased focus on the Malabar or northern parts of the State with the help of a digital facility.

New products and tailor-made experiences like the Jatayu Earth Centre in south Kerala which contains a large bird sculpture, a virtual reality museum and a ropeway to reach the destination are the other tipping points for the state’s tourism.

Other attractions

Attention will also be drawn to the Nehru Trophy Boat race to be held in November. A focus on the ‘neelakurinji’ that blooms once every 12 years, which has remained intact despite the floods, will be another focus, George said. Apart from these, there is also a focus on marketing campaigns, both in India and abroad, to spread the word that Kerala is ready and that people can visit, George explained.

The public-private partnership of Kerala’s tourism sector is what sets it apart from that of other states, George pointed out. “Our private sector which comprises the local entrepreneurs, hoteliers, operators and home-stay owners, contribute the base of Kerala tourism. From the public-private partnership, the government always supports the initiatives of the private sector,” she said.