Kerala tourism spurs domestic segment to shed Nipah fears

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Thiruvananthapuram | Published: June 20, 2019 6:56:36 AM

Kerala tourism is betting big on its domestic traveler segment in the coming season to get rid of the shadow of the state’s second Nipah virus outbreak from its Rs 36,528-crore bottom line.

Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka account for the bulk of domestic tourists to the beaches, backwaters and hill stations of Kerala.

Kerala tourism is betting big on its domestic traveler segment in the coming season to get rid of the shadow of the state’s second Nipah virus outbreak from its Rs 36,528-crore bottom line.

During the first quarter of 2019, when foreign tourist segment revenue dropped by 4.14%, it was 8.07% spurt in the domestic tourist arrivals that propped the revenue growth.

After the ongoing 12-day global campaign, bundled with the short movie Human by nature to go with the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England, Kerala tourism will swing to wooing domestic tourists.

“In July, the state will organise a string of partnership meets in 20 Indian cities, including Pune, Surat and Rajkot. Roadshows will be held in Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Vishakapatnam, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkatta, Jaipur and Guwahati,” T Balakiran, director, Kerala Tourism, told FE.

Kerala Tourism will also figure actively in trade fairs like IITT Mumbai, TTF & OTM Mumbai , TTF Ahmedabad and IITM Bengaluru.

Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka account for the bulk of domestic tourists to the beaches, backwaters and hill stations of Kerala.

But what worries hospitality business is the potential cancellation of reservations over the second advent of Nipah virus. “Since it is very localised, the outbreak is not as scary as last time. Just once person was tested positive and even he has nearly recovered,” says Suresh Pillai, secretary, South Kerala Hoteliers’ Forum.

However, he shared fears that those travelling across the state have been dithering about confirming their bookings. Unlike last year during the first Nipah outbreak, there is no negative travel advisory this time. In fact, there is no restriction on public movement, says a statement by Ernakulam district collector MY Saffirulla.

More than 16.7 million tourists visited Kerala in 2018, compared to 15.76 million in 2017, logging 5.93% increase. This had generated Rs 36,528.01 crore revenue, about Rs 2,874.3 crore higher than that in the previous year. The flood-ravaged state economy would take a grave battering, if baseless Nipah rumours create an unsafe perception for foreign tourists. “Stimulating domestic tourism is the time-tested solution to keep the tourism footfalls active,” said Rani George, principal secretary, Kerala Tourism. Much would depend on the country-wide partnership meets, absorbing the state’s messages on safe and serene destination.

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