Overcoming the grim blow dealt by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerala Tourism has bounced back clocking 3.8 million domestic tourists in the first quarter of 2022, marking an impressive growth of 72.48 per cent as compared to 2.2 million footfalls during the corresponding period of 2021, Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas said on Wednesday.
Going by the prevailing trend, Kerala Tourism is set to attract record number of tourists this year on the strength of its globally-acclaimed assets, new products and initiatives like caravan tourism and by exploring the unexplored destinations across the state, Riyas told a press conference here.
Releasing the first quarter figures of 2022, the minister said Ernakulam district registered the highest number of 8,11,426 domestic tourists, followed by Thiruvananthapuram (6,00,933), Idukki (5,11,947), Thrissur (3,58,052), and Wayanad (3,10,322).
Five districts — Idukki, Malappuram, Kasaragod, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad — registered the highest ever footfall since their formation.
Overall, there was a significant increase of 16 lakh tourists in the first three months of the current year compared to the corresponding period last year. This healthy uptick in the number of tourists from within the country indicates that the domestic segment of Kerala Tourism has recovered from the impact of the pandemic, Riyas said.
On the ambitious project to explore the unexplored destinations, he said the government will soon announce a ‘Destination Challenge’ initiative in association with local self-government department (LSGD) to identify at least one destination under each LSG institution. The LSGs will be the main beneficiary of this project.
Noting that the upkeep of tourism centres is vital, Riyas said tourism clubs will be formed in college campuses as youngsters can effectively work together as volunteers in keeping tourist assets well maintained.
He noted that around 3.5 lakh people turned up for the four-day Beypore Water Fest held at the turn of the year, at the ancient port town near Kozhikode. It turned out to be one of the biggest water fests in the post-pandemic world in terms of people’s participation. As a result, Beypore Water Fest has been firmly marked on tourism calendar as an annual feature, he said.
The Minister said the new tourism products and events like caravan tourism, adventure tourism and the second edition of Champions Boat League (CBL) to be held later this year and projects under LSGs, STREET Project and Responsible Tourism will certainly give a fillip to domestic tourism sector.
Kerala Tourism Director V R Krishna Teja said the arrival of foreign tourists is also expected to pick up with the resumption of international flights, which remained suspended during the pandemic period.
As for foreign tourist arrivals, the number rose from 14,489 in the first quarter of 2021 to 43,547 during the corresponding period in the current year, notching a significant increase of 200.55 per cent. Thus, there was an increase of about 29,000 foreign tourist arrivals in Kerala during the three-month period.
The foreign tourists mainly focused on Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram districts.
Kerala Tourism Principal Secretary K S Srinivas was also present at the press meet.