Kerala Tourism is planning to place North Kerala on its promotional campaigns this year, in order to reach a target of increasing domestic tourist arrivals by 50 per cent and international tourist arrivals by 100 per cent, by 2021. Kerala Tourism will leverage upon the established destinations in South Kerala, whilst giving thrust to North Kerala destinations such as Bekal, Kannur, Calicut and Manappuram.
Speaking to FE Online, P Bala Kiran, director – Kerala Tourism, said, “To achieve this target, the present core tourism circuit will not be able to hold these numbers. We don’t want to indulge in mass tourism, but we will concentrate on North Kerala this year, which is still untapped. We will add Bekal, Kannur, Calicut and Manappuram to our promotion campaigns. North Kerala is also well served by international airports.” Kerala is also banking upon air connectivity and airport infrastructure to boost tourism. “We are a small state and we already have four international airports and the fifth is underway in Kannur. There is a lot of potential and we believe that increasing direct flights will boost tourist arrivals from various countries,” he added.
In FY 2016-2017, Kerala Tourism received a record one million foreign tourist arrivals. Additionally, the Middle East has been emerging as a growth market fot Kerala Tourism, which is also attributed to direct air connectivity to the region. Kiran commented, “The final statistics of FY 2016-2017 has showed a good growth in tourism, inspite of demonetisation and liquor policy. We were expecting no growth, but international tourist arrivals have crossed one million for the first time and domestic tourism has also shown a good growth. There has been continuous increase in tourist arrivals – six per cent growth in domestic and 6.5 per cent in international.”
The state tourism board is further leveraging upon social media and technology for promotions. At the second edition of International Conference on Tourism Technology (ICTT), to be held in Kochi from June 8-10 this year, Kerala Tourism team will meet industry stakeholders from across the country. Kiran stated, “We are also getting 12 speakers from across the world. A large part of travel and hotel bookings are now done online. We want to leverage internet and social media for tourism promotion. We have a huge presence on social media and we have been using technology for a long time. But this conference is not for the government; it is for the industry to get hold of technology.”
Kerala Tourism is also focusing on the homestay segment and will provide support to homestay providers and mutually develop the space in the state. “Kerala Tourism works as a private office and we had realised the significance of PPP model a long time ago. Kerala government believes in being a promoter of the industry, rather than a regulator. We do 15-20 roadshows each year, internationally and within India. Western Europe has been our core focus internationally; most of foreign traffic comes from this region,” he added.