Thiruvananthapuram: Tourism sector is back in the pink in Kerala with domestic tourist arrivals to the state recording a spike of 11.39 per cent in 2017 in contrast to previous year figures. In a double delight of sorts, foreign tourist arrivals have also clocked an increase of 5.15 per cent during the period. The good show has come as a breather for the tourism industry reeling under the fallout of the new Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime and other related hurdles.
With an increase of 15 lakh new tourists, the data with the Tourism Department show palpable signs of the state achieving the target set for the domestic tourism circuit. With the rate of growth almost doubling in contrast to last year, domestic tourist arrivals are likely to cross the target set in the Kerala Tourism Policy. In terms of tourism revenue, total foreign exchange from the sector rose to 8.29 per cent to Rs 8,392.11 crore compared to the last fiscal. Total direct earnings from the sector grew to Rs 26000.33 crore from Rs 23,098.15 crore, a growth of 12.56 per cent.
The Tourism Department has recorded a growth of Rs 3,725.12 crore in total revenue generated from the sector.“Tourists from across the globe made a beeline to Kerala in large numbers during 2017, which has reflected on the reassuring figures. The growth figures point to the immense popularity Kerala Tourism enjoys beyond the borders,” said Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism.
Highest Growth Rate in Nine Years
The total growth rate in terms of tourist arrivals in 2017 is the highest registered in the past nine years, he added. According to Rani George IAS, Secretary, Department of Tourism, “Tourism Policy 2017 has set an ambitious target of increasing domestic tourist arrivals by 50 per cent by 2021 and also doubling the foreign tourist footfalls. This would require a growth of around 9 per cent per year for domestic tourists and around 15 per cent for international tourists”. Meanwhile, in the domestic tourist arrival segment, footfalls have gone up from 1,31,72,535 in 2016, to 1,46,73,520 in 2017. There has also been a steady rise in footfalls of 15,00,985 persons in 2017 as against the numbers recorded during the end of 2016.
“Considering that the hike in domestic tourist arrivals in 2016 was only 5.67 per cent when compared with the 2015 numbers, the rise in 2017 is encouraging,” said P Balakiran IAS, Director, Kerala Tourism.On the foreign tourist arrivals front, footfalls have increased from 10,38,419 to 10,91,870 . The figures show an increase of 53,451 more foreign tourists this year, with the numbers hovering near 11 lakh.
Lure of Kochi
Foreign tourist arrivals registered a positive growth in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Wayanad districts, while districts like Kasaragod, Kannur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kottayam, Kollam, Alappuzha registered a negative growth in foreign tourist arrivals. On the domestic front, tourists mainly focused on districts like Alappuzha, Idukki, Wayanad, Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam districts. Ernakulam welcomed the maximum number of domestic tourists, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram came second and third respectively in this regard.
The TN Effect
Domestic travellers 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. The second position went to Karnataka with 9.33 lakh tourists, and the third slot went to Maharashtra with 5.47 lakh tourists. There has also been a significant increase in tourist arrivals from Delhi with 2,40,672 visitors (18.67 per cent increase) and Gujarat with a footfall of 2,39,228 with 24.48 per cent increase).
Britain’s Date with Kerala
Of the total foreign travellers who visited the state, tourists from the UK topped the list with an increase of 16.35 per cent at 1,80,975 visitors. There has also been a significant rise in tourists from North American countries, with the US (5.83 per cent) and Canada (17.77 per cent) posting considerable growth. A total of 92,951 tourists arrived from the US during the year, while Canadian tourists stood at 28,676. As per the data, the post-GST enforcement saw a steady decline in the growth rate of domestic tourist arrivals. With regard to the foreign tourist arrival, the months of August, September and October of 2017 posted negative growth. However, the state registered a positive growth rate both in foreign and domestic tourist inflow during the last months of the year November and December 2017.