Overcoming the grim blow dealt by the Covid pandemic, Kerala Tourism has bounced back clocking 3.8 million domestic tourists in the first quarter of 2022, marking an impressive growth of 72.48 percent as compared with 2.2 million footfalls during the corresponding period in 2021, Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas said today.
Going by the prevailing trend, Kerala Tourism is set to attract record number of tourists this year on the strength of its globally-acclaimed assets, new products and initiatives like caravan tourism and by exploring the unexplored destinations across the state, Riyas told a press conference here.
K S Srinivas, Principal Secretary, Kerala Tourism; and V R Krishna Teja, Director, Kerala Tourism; were also present at the press meet.
Releasing the first quarter figures of 2022, Shri Riyas said Ernakulam district registered the highest number of 811,426 domestic tourists, followed by Thiruvananthapuram (600,933), Idukki (511,947), Thrissur (358,052), and Wayanad (310,322).
Five districts– Idukki, Malappuram, Kasaragod, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad— registered the highest ever footfall since their formation.
Overall, there was a significant increase of 16 lakh tourists in the first three months of the current year compared to the corresponding period last year. This healthy uptick in the number of tourists from within the country indicates that the domestic segment of Kerala Tourism has recovered from the impact of the pandemic, the Minister noted.
On the ambitious project to explore the unexplored destinations, he said the government will soon announce a ‘Destination Challenge’ initiative in association with local self- government department (LSGD) to identify at least one destination under each LSG institution. The LSGs will be the main beneficiary of this project.
Noting that the upkeep of tourism centres is vital, Riyas said tourism clubs will be formed in college campuses as youngsters can effectively work together as volunteers in keeping tourist assets well maintained.
He noted that around 3.5 lakh people turned up for the four-day Beypore Water Fest held at the turn of the year, at the ancient port town near Kozhikode. It turned out to be one of the biggest water fests in the post-pandemic world in terms of people’s participation. As a result, Beypore Water Fest has been firmly marked on tourism calendar as an annual feature, he said.
The Minister said the new tourism products and events like caravan tourism, adventure tourism and the second edition of Champions Boat League (CBL) to be held later this year and projects under LSGs, STREET Project and Responsible Tourism will certainly give a fillip to domestic tourism sector.
The Director of Tourism said the arrival of foreign tourists is also expected to pick up with the resumption of international flights, which remained suspended during the pandemic period.
As for foreign tourist arrivals, the number increased from 14,489 in the first quarter of 2021 to 43,547 during the corresponding period in the current year, notching a significant increase of 200.55 per cent. Thus, there was an increase of about 29,000 foreign tourist arrivals in Kerala during the three-month period.
The foreign tourists mainly focused on Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram districts.
A 360 degree marketing campaign conducted by the Kerala Tourism during October-December 2021 has immensely contributed to the huge success of Kerala Tourism during this period. The campaign, which meticulously used all available media to connect the tourists, projected the state as a safe destination of diverse experiences for domestic as well as foreign tourists. Kerala also made a mark in Travel and Tourism Fair in Ahmedabad highlighting the central theme “A Change of Air.
As part of direct messaging various media such as FM radio, television, OTT platforms, big screen, print media, music apps and digital portals have been leveraged. Social media platforms are also being used effectively to present before the world the state as an experiential tourism hub.
After the pandemic enforced hiatus of two years, Kerala Tourism also organized the first business-to-business meets in European cities of Madrid and Milan, besides Muscat and Manama in the Middle East. This outreach has enhanced the confidence that the state will be able to attract visitors in large numbers from Europe and Middle East in the months ahead.
The Tourism Department has also launched a WhatsApp chatbot ‘Maya’, which is a virtual tour guide.
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