KOCHI: The tourism sector in India as well as in Kerala has been registering incredible growth over the past few years, said Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran. He was speaking after inaugurating the second edition of the Homestays and Rural Tourism Travel Meet, 2017, organised by the Kerala Homestay and Tourism Society in association with India Tourism and Kerala Tourism in Kochi on Friday. Kadakampally said the revenue from the tourism sector would make up a major share of the country’s GDP in the coming years.
“As per the study conducted by a foreign agency, the tourism sector in India will contribute $4.5 trillion to the nation’s GDP by 2024. As far as Kerala is concerned, tourism is one of the major revenue generating sectors. Around 10. 3 lakh foreign tourists and 1. 32 crore domestic tourists arrived in Kerala in 2016, and the industry generated a total revenue of `38,000 crore,” he said. He said the technological advancement has paved the way for a major shift in the tourism industry. “If the homestays can tap the opportunity, it can take the tourism industry to the next level. Though the tourism industry in the state has been facing several issues, we hope to overcome the challenges easily,” he said.
K V Thomas MP said the concept of homestays was introduced in the state during his tenure as the Tourism Minister. “In 2001, Kerala was the first state in the country to adopt homestay system. Over the years, homestays have become a crucial factor in the growth of tourism in the state. Unlike in Goa, homestays in Kerala help tourists experience the state’s culture and traditions,” he said.
He said the tourism sector in India was facing stiff competition from countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand. However, the governments have been extending all support to the tourism industry to compete with its counterparts in other countries.
The Homestays and Rural Tourism Travel Meet saw various personalities associated with tourism industry sharing their experience. Tourism Director of Malaysia Noor Azman Bin Samsudin and tourism expert from Japan Tetsuya Nakatani were also present at the inaugural function.
As part of the meet, discussions on various topics related to homestay tourism will be held on Saturday and Sunday. Around 200 homestay providers and 600 tour operators and travel agents are attending the meet. As many as 136 stalls have been set up near the venue.