Covid blues over as 1.34 crore domestic tourists come calling to Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 25 (IANS) Kerala saw a record-setting surge in domestic tourist arrivals in the first three quarters of the current year as compared to the corresponding period a year ago, reflecting a comeback from the pandemic-triggered downturn, said a state minister.
Tourism Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas said that Kerala's crucial travel and hospitality sector is poised to surpass pre-pandemic levels.
"The state received a total of 1,33,80,000 domestic tourists in nine months till September, notching a 1.49 per cent increase as compared to the same period before Covid-19 struck the world," said Riyas.
The January-September period this year saw a 600 per cent stride in foreign tourist arrivals to Kerala, and the state is expected to host more overseas travellers as the world is opening up overcoming the pandemic-induced restrictions.
"Overall, Kerala Tourism grew by 120 per cent amid a 12.07 per cent surge in state Gross Domestic Product in 2021-22, which is above the national average, as cited by the Department of Economics and Statistics," added the Minister.
Kerala's caravan tourism, Keravan Kerala, launched during the pandemic period, will be further developed as it has tremendous scope to attract foreign tourists. As part of this, plans are afoot to develop caravan parks in Bolgatty and Kumarakom, the Minister said.
In July, Time magazine featured Kerala among world's 50 extraordinary destinations to be explored in 2022.
The third quarter of 2022 saw Ernakulam district ranking first in domestic tourism with 28,93,961 tourist visits, followed by Thiruvananthapuram (21,46,969), Idukki (17,85,276), Thrissur (15,07,511), and Wayanad (10,93,175).
The Tourism Department is making all efforts to improve domestic tourism. Besides wooing tourists from other states, the department also focuses on giving an added momentum to local tourism within Kerala. Travel lovers are also encouraged to explore the destinations within their districts.
In state-wise breakup of visitors in nine months, Tamil Nadu topped clocking 11,60,336 tourists followed by Karnataka (7,67,262), Maharashtra (3,82,957), Andhra Pradesh (1,95,594), and Delhi (1,40,471).
More than 100 new tourism destinations will be added to the state's tourism map by 2023, as part of the Destination Challenge Project, being carried out in collaboration with local self-government institutions.
"The implementation of a set of meticulously-crafted steps will help in future trajectory of travel and hospitality industry in the state," added Riyas who is the son-in-law of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.