2017 has turned out to be a good year for Kerala’s tourism as the state has recorded a sizable increase in footfalls, more so in the domestic segment. In the domestic segment, an increase of 11.39 percent has been recorded in arrivals to Kerala, compared to the figures of previous year. Meanwhile, foreign tourist arrivals increased by 5.15 percent during the period.
These numbers assume added significance as the growth comes at the back of government’s decision of demonetization in the last months of 2016 – which has had a cascading effect on businesses cutting across verticals. These numbers are encouraging signs for the state’s tourism industry, significantly dependent on tourism and allied services for revenue generation.
Data crunching by the state tourism department has revealed positive signs of attaining the set goal in the domestic tourism circuit with an increase of 15 lakh new tourists. With growth almost doubling than that of last year, domestic tourist arrivals have, in fact, achieved more than what has been targeted in the Kerala Tourism Policy.
In terms of tourism revenue, total foreign exchange from the tourism sector increased 8.29 percent to INR 8392.11 crore compared to the figures of last year. Total direct earnings from the sector grew to INR 26000.33 crore from INR 23098.15 crore, a growth of 12.56 percent.
Commenting on the development, Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Cooperation and Devaswoms asserted that travellers from across the globe had visited Kerala. “This comes at a time when the tourism industry is suffering from adverse factors like enhanced GST rates and allied hurdles. The growth figures point to the immense popularity Kerala Tourism enjoys beyond the borders,” he said. The total growth rate in terms of tourist arrivals in 2017 was the highest registered in the last 9 years, the minister added.
According to Rani George, Secretary, Department of Tourism, the new Tourism policy 2017 had set an ambitious target of increasing domestic tourist’s arrivals by 50% by year 2021, besides doubling foreign inbound. “This would require a growth of around 9% every year for domestic tourists and around 15% for international tourists,” she said, detailing.
P Balakiran, Director, Kerala Tourism pointed out that the domestic segment had grown the highest in the last nine years, and “the increase in domestic tourist arrivals in 2016 was only 5.67% when compared with the 2015 numbers, the rise in 2017 is encouraging,” he said.
In terms of specifics, on the foreign tourist arrivals front, footfalls have increased from 10,38,419 to 10,91,870. The figures point to the fact that there has been an increase of 53,451 more foreign tourists this year, with figures nearing 11 lakh. Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Wayanad districts have lead this surge in international inbound, while districts like Kasaragod, Kannur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kottayam, Kollam, Alapuzha registered negative growth.
On the domestic front, tourists mainly focused on districts like Alappuzha, Idukki, Wayanad, Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam districts. Guruvayur in Thrissur district witnessed a slight decrease in the number of tourists when compared with the previous year.
Domestic travelers to Kerala mainly arrived from southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra and Telangana. Tamil Nadu accounts for the maximum footfall with 12.72 lakh visitors while Karnataka followed with 9.33 lakh tourists.
Taking into account the number of the foreign travellers who arrived in Kerala, it has been recorded that tourists from the UK were first in number with footfalls. However, there has been a significant rise in travellers from North American countries, with the US (5.83%) and Canada (17.77%) posting considerable growth. A total of 92,951 travellers arrived from the US during the year, while Canadian tourists stood at 28,676. The number of travellers from four Asian countries – China, Japan, Maldives and Indonesia also registered growth.