Kerala is looking at an over 8 per cent growth in domestic tourist footfalls this year as it undertakes a slew of initiatives to promote the state as a preferred destination, a senior official has said. In 2016, the total number of tourist arrivals in Kerala stood at 1,42,10,954, an increase of 5.8 per cent from the previous year. “The Tourism Department of Kerala aims to increase domestic tourist arrivals by over 8 per cent and international tourists by 13 per cent every year,” state Tourism Director P Bala Kiran told PTI.
Over the last five years, the state “witnessed 100 per cent growth” in domestic tourist arrivals, Bala Kiran said.
Kerala hosted 1,31,72,535 domestic tourists and 10,38,419 foreign tourist arrivals during 2016, he added.
As far as international arrivals were concerned, he said, “the UK, the US, Saudi Arabia, France and Germany were the top 5 international markets in 2016”.
With an aim to promote the state as a preferred destination, Bala Kiran said the tourism department is focusing to promote adventure tourism.
“The state has huge potential for adventure tourism and it can substantially contribute to the overall growth of the tourism sector,” he added.
When it comes to tourism, the state will be re-branded as ‘the land of adventure’.
“This is to woo the younger generation by offering them activity and water-based tourism,” Bala Kiran said, adding Kerala Tourism has been following a robust development plan in order to make the state as the most sought-after destination globally.
Moreover, the department has planned to develop water based activities like Kayaking, cruise tourism, he added.
“Additionally, the state government plans to develop 10 eco-tourism circuits to connect various forests in order to promote green tourism,” Bala Kiran said.
The government is also committed to the concept of ‘responsible tourism’ wherein the local community is benefited by tourism with the sustained effort on environment conservation, he added.
The tourism department is keen on promoting home stays and rural tourism, Bala Kiran said.
Owing to the considerable growth in terms of foreign tourist footfall, Kerala Tourism has planned several trade meets/ B2B meets across high potential international markets, he added.
“As part of the ambitious promotional campaign, Kerala Tourism has planned 24 road-shows and 12 trade fairs with an estimated cost of around Rs 11.5 crore under the international campaign for ongoing financial year 2017-18,” Bala Kiran said.