The Kerala government aims to generate five lakh jobs in tourism in the next three years without rupturing the socio-cultural ethos of its people, even as the industry is bracing up to emerge out of a business loss of Rs 500 crore in last month’s floods in the state, according to top officials and experts.
The state is back on track on the tourist map with all its destinations reopened after the August calamity, speakers in a symposium at the ongoing Kerala Travel Mart noted here on Friday.
Responsible Tourism will be the key to the ambitious government plan of giving five lakh more people jobs by 2021, Kerala Tourism Secretary Rani George said at the seminar on ‘Tourism: An Engine for Economic Growth’ that was addressed by hotelier Samir M C, mediaperson Manoj K Das and KTM past presidents E M Najeeb, Riaz Ahmed and Abraham George.
Just as nature, resorts and festivals cannot promote tourism in Kerala, entrepreneurs also play a major role; 12,800 families are direct beneficiaries of the thriving industry besides another 50,000 indirect beneficiaries,George said. A tourism portal (tourismcarriers.in) dedicated to job generation seeks to fulfill the intended target, she added, noting that Kerala in 2017 received 150 lakh tourists, 10 lakh of them foreigners.
Samir drew parallels from the tourism promotion profile of Singapore in the past three decades. “It’s a place where administrators chose not to tamper with the cultural fabric. True, casinos came in after a lot of thought, but their functioning has no way affected society,” he said. “Kerala, too, can sustain tourism by keeping intact its traditional values.”
Manoj Das noted that the media in Kerala handled the August catastrophe with responsibility, seldom resorting to sensationalism. “While we do highlight the bright spots on the tourism map, we cannot give a blind eye to issues in the industry,” he said, calling upon the need to weed certain unhealthy practices in the segment.
George said the government is making moves to use the Kochi Muziris Biennale venues for other cultural purposes during times when they are free from the bustle of the contemporary art event.
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