KOCHI: The New Year has brought in fresh hopes for the tourism industry. For the authorities expect amendments in the liquor policy and that the infrastructure development activities would attract tourists to Kerala. The Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Events (MICE) tourism - which had almost disappeared after the UDF Government’s liquor policy - is expected to return to Kerala in 2018.
K S Shine, Tourist Information Officer, said the tourism policy and initiatives taken by the government will lead the tourism sector to an unprecedented growth. “We have high hopes of MICE tourism returning to Kerala,” he said. “Even though changes were made in the liquor policy in 2017, its impact will be noticed in 2018. Several national and international events will be held in Kochi this year. Hotels are receiving good numbers of bookings as part of the New Year-Christmas festive season.”
Shine said the government is carrying out infrastructure development activities which will boost tourist arrivals. Similarly, new projects for promoting adventure tourism and sports tourism will certainly attract tourists from other states and from abroad. “The department is keen to develop adventure tourism in the state. Several destinations have been selected for this purpose. Steps are being taken to promote existing adventure events like paragliding and river rafting. The work carried out as part of tourism projects will be finished in 2018 and tourists will have the opportunity to visit new tourist destinations in the state,” he said.
Kerala Travel Mart secretary Jose Pradeep said expectations are high on the return of MICE tourism. However, the government should take the initiative to develop infrastructure, especially roads, and to clean up tourist destinations. “It takes more than seven hours for a tourist to travel from Ernakulam to Thiruvananthapuram,” he said.“Roads are in poor condition and traffic blocks are severe along National Highways. Similar is the situation of bus stations. Several foreign tourists prefer to travel on transport buses. But, if we look at the situation of the Ernakulam bus station, no foreign tourist will recommend his friends to visit Kerala.” Even though hotel bookings were good in December, Pradeep said, the advanced booking for January and February is comparatively low. However, optimism is high the situation will change in the coming days.
Kerala Homestay and Tourism Society (HATS) secretary M P Sivadathan said, if the government policies favour the homestay industry, 2018 will witness growth in the tourism sector. The year 2017 was a dull period for homestays as the number of tourists turning up from abroad and other states was low. “Homestays play a crucial role in the growth of the tourism industry. The Tourism Department is taking initiatives to promote homestays. With Kannur airport become operational by 2018, the tourism industry in north Kerala will witness a boom. Homestays should be considered as a home unit rather than a commercial unit,” he said.
Kochi to host ‘Middle East Travel Mart’
Kochi: The tour operators in West Asia will be organising ‘Middle East Travel Mart-2018’ to promote Kerala tourism in that region. The event will be held at the Bolgatty Palace Event Centre from March 29 to April 2. Around 100 tour operators from the Gulf countries will be arriving in Kerala as part of the event. The tour operators will conduct B2B meetings with hotels and travel agencies in the state. A website dedicated to the event is slated to be inaugurated on Saturday.
For more information, contact on 9744370777, 9744370222 or 0484-4030950.