John L. Paul

Hoteliers foresee bright prospects in 2006

KOCHI: This tourist season has put a smile on the face of hoteliers in Kochi, thanks to 100 per cent room occupancy.

The tourist tide, which began in the months of November-December, is expected to continue well up to the beginning of March or even further.

``Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC)-run hotels, especially the Bolghatty Palace Hotel, have been recording 100 per cent occupancy this season," said Asok Kumar Singh, Additional Director, Tourism.

"The demand is so much that the existing 6,500 hotel rooms, including non-classified ones, in the State are wholly inadequate to accommodate the increasing number of tourists. There is acute shortage of rooms in high-end hotels in Kerala. The World Tourism Travel Council, which conducted a study for Kerala Tourism, has predicted a 12 per cent annual growth for tourism in the State. Taking this as a benchmark, hotel rooms will have to increase by at least 10 per cent each year. Since the Department of Tourism acts only as a facilitator, we have our limitations in creating more rooms," he said.

Yatri Nivas facilities in different parts of the State too are inadequate in accommodating tourists. The result is that many tourists are put up in lodges. On its part, the Department of Tourism has been promoting home stays as a means to overcome the crisis. The department now offers a subsidy scheme to home stays, which have been classified by it. Private entrepreneurs who open Vazhiyoram units (wayside eateries on major roads) have been given the liberty to arrange accommodation facilities for tourists.

Vice-president (Corporate Affairs) of the Indian Hotels Company, T. Damu, said that all Taj properties in the State were having 100 per cent occupancy. "This trend will continue for another month. Tourist arrivals have been better than last year. By March, a clear picture will emerge about tourist arrivals in the conventional off-season," he said. "This tourist season has been very good. Though many of our clients are corporates, we have been getting a good inflow of foreign tourists this season. All our rooms have been booked well into March," says Jacob Kurien, Director (Operations) of Harbour View Residency, which has 55 rooms.

Good room occupancy also helps the hotel restaurant, since many guests eat from there. The better tourist inflow to Kerala this year and the revival of the economy have given cause for cheer for hoteliers. Aimed at catering to the increasing demand for hotel rooms, we plan to open another hotel at Palarivattom, said Mr. Kurien.