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Updated: December 21, 2013 11:33 IST

Tourist arrivals plummet in State

John L. Paul
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A decade since World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) commended Kerala for registering the world’s highest growth in the tourism sector, most of the State’s tourism stakeholders are a worried lot.

They are concerned and annoyed at the sharp decline in arrival of foreign tourists during December, when tourist arrivals generally peak.

Cost factor

Former general secretary of Mattancherry-based Kashmir Traders Association Sajid Hussain Khatai said there was roughly 70 per cent decline in arrival of foreign tourists to the heritage locale this month. “Good many foreigners are showing a marked preference for Sri Lanka which resembles Kerala, but offers a more quality experience at much lesser cost. Dozens of Kashmiri traders selling handicrafts and carpets antiques are thus making a beeline to set shop in the island nation.”

Even cruise ships (which bring tourists by the hundred) prefer to call at Colombo than Kochi because of lower berthing charges there. Of late, Goa and southern States too were offering stiff competition to Kerala, because they offered cheaper accommodation, travel and food, Mr. Khatai said.

The president of Kerala Travel Mart Society – a conclave of prominent tourism stakeholders — Abraham George said most hoteliers and other players in the sector were feeling the heat because of a noticeable fall in number of tourist arrivals. “Economic recession in places like Europe has prompted group cancellations. Many who are keen to visit Kerala are peeved at hartals being called at the drop of a hat and have begun to skip the State, because their travel itinerary suffers. The increase in number of hotels, resorts etc., has further affected investors.”

He called for a “consensus” on hartals, simultaneous with aggressive marketing of destinations, to woo tourists.

The State government too acknowledges a slowdown in the sector this season. Secretary of Kerala Tourism Suman Billa said stakeholders were hit because of hike in power tariff and salaries for staff. “There is also an increase in number of hotel/resort rooms. Thus, many properties do not command the price they once had. Still, tourist arrivals in 2013 are seven to eight per cent higher than in 2012.”

Garbage woes

Mr Billa expressed concern at tourists, especially from foreign countries, shunning what were once extremely popular locales like Fort Kochi because of slack garbage management and encroachments. “Inadequate and ill-maintained roads/footpaths is another macro issue that needs to be tackled at the State level, since this is affecting many destinations.”

Backwater tourism

He spoke of how much has to be done to ensure quality service in houseboats. A Rs. 72-crore Central scheme is on the anvil to revive backwater tourism.

More In: Kerala | National | Kochi

There are several reasons for plummeting tourists.

The Tourism Dept. Secretary and Tourism Director are IAS officers who have no prior experience/knowledge in travel/tourism industry and customer service. Only a former Tourism Secretary/Director Dr. V. Venu had some kind of vision.

The keralatourism.com Web site does not conform to world format and lacks the required information being sought by domestic and international tourists.

Free suggestions submitted by experts to the Tourism Minister/Secretary/Director are not welcomed and not even acknowledged. Those who are involved in Kerala Tourism think that they are the only experts in the field and none above them--a great mistake.

Lack of infrastructure/security/budget hotels, hartals, etc., further negatively affect the tourists. Public sector KTDC concentrates on running luxury hotels instead of neat/clean/air-conditioned budget hotels. Adding insult to injury, the travel industry exploit tourists.

from:  George
Posted on: Dec 22, 2013 at 10:50 IST

Kerala had become a recommended tourist destination, after Ayurveda, the scenic beauty of
it's landscape, the recreative potential of its beaches, the richness of its cultural traditions
and the warmheartedness and friendliness of its people had been repeatedly highlighted in
the Western media.
Unfortunately the tourist that then came have been dismayed by the lack of environmental
concern while disposing garbage, by the life threatening driving habits of public and private
transportation and by the lack of heritage consciousness and quality concern while
developing public space in the cities.

from:  Prem Manasvi
Posted on: Dec 22, 2013 at 02:07 IST

Politician in Kerala are happy with Keralites working outside and bringing money in. They wouldn’t let anybody work in Kerala. Kerala’s good jobs are government jobs. Government employees get paid Hatal or not. Privet companies cannot survive in a situation like that. There is socialistic attitude in Kerala among Kerala’s people and its politicians that look down on privet enterprises and look to government to solve all its problems. And government is incapable of doing that. There has to be attitude change were private enterprise play a major role in Kerala’s economy.

from:  philip
Posted on: Dec 21, 2013 at 19:07 IST

Kerala could've easily capitalized on its greenery by ensuring that
it's clean. However, cities like Kochi have refused to get rid of its
open drainage making it a stinking, mosquito infested city. I myself
have seen a dramatic decline in cleanliness from my childhood, of this
beautiful state. Secondly the arts and culture departments have to
ensure that historical places, art museums etc. have to recruit (paid
or by active volunteerism by many interested people) or use state of
the art technologies to provide guided tours. Thirdly, improve the
presentations (take a cue from how it's done in other countries) of
art museums. Think smart and beyond the petty confines of votes, money
and power. The state will then be guaranteed to attract tourists from
within India and elsewhere.

from:  sriram
Posted on: Dec 21, 2013 at 18:45 IST

Whenever I visited Kerala I had very bad experience in keeping with my
schedule. Either a hartal or Road blocks or other forms of strike
created a lot of inconvenience to me and my family. People arriving
from outside always have a very tight schedule and their itinerary is
planned well in advance to book air/rail tickets, Hotels etc. Changes
caused by any events mentioned earlier cost them dearly. Who will risk
so much hardship to visit when lot of choices are available elsewhere.
It is high time Keralites and their so called political leaders have a
rethink on such form of strikes when it adversely affect all sectors
especially tourism which creates a lot of job opportunities and fill
the coffers of the state with millions of foreign exchange.

from:  Emmanuel Mathew
Posted on: Dec 21, 2013 at 17:58 IST

There are hartals and demonstrations almost every day in some place or other. No one can plan a trip to Kerala without loss of additional days of leave, money and comforts. Only nomads can visit the State without having any time schedules and future plans. The state will never learn any lessons and its leaders have no broad vision for the State. Intelligence of Human Resources of the State is wasted for nothing.

from:  Dr.T.V.Gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Dec 21, 2013 at 12:12 IST
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