TIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Cyclone Ockhi might have left a trail of destruction along the Kerala coast but its impact was not felt in the state’s tourism sector, reveal the latest statistics of the government.
After a dismal growth in tourist arrivals in August, September and October, the tourism sector registered robust growth rate in November and December, thanks to an increased inflow of domestic tourists. The growth rate in terms of domestic tourist arrivals in 2017 is the highest registered in the last nine years.
While an increase of 11.39 per cent was recorded in domestic tourist arrivals in 2017, foreign tourist arrivals increased by 5.15 per cent. With domestic tourism sector witnessing an increase of 15 lakh new tourists, the state has achieved more than what was targeted in the Kerala Tourism Policy.
The new Tourism Policy had set an ambitious target of increasing domestic tourist arrivals by 50% by 2021 and also in doubling the foreign tourists by this period. This would require a growth of around nine per cent every year for domestic tourists and around 15 per cent for international tourists. Though the state performed exceptionally well in the domestic sector, the growth rate in terms of foreign tourist arrivals were below expectations.
In terms of tourism revenue, total foreign exchange from the tourism sector increased 8.29 per cent to `8,392.11 crore compared to last year. Total revenue from tourism recorded a rise of `3725.12 crore and stood at `33,383.68 crore in 2017.
The ‘domestic’ trend
According to the statistics, the rate of growth of domestic tourists stood at 12.22 per cent till July 2017. However, the rate fell to 9.12 percent, 5.29 percent and 3.14 percent in August, September and October 2017, respectively. By the end of the year, it again picked up with growth rate rising to 18.02 per cent and 16.07 per cent in November and December 2017. Domestic travellers to Kerala mainly arrived from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Tamil Nadu alone accounted for 12.72 lakh visitors. The second position went to Karnataka with 9.33 lakh tourists, and the third slot went to Maharashtra with 5.47 lakh tourists.
There has also been a significant increase in tourist arrivals from Delhi and Gujarat recording growth rates of 18.67 per cent and 24.48 per cent respectively. Ernakulam welcomed the maximum number of domestic tourists, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram came second and third, respectively.
Foreign tourist arrivals: Not so rosy
On the foreign tourist arrival front, footfalls increased from 10.38 lakh to 10.91 lakh, an increase of 53,451 more visitors this year, with the total figures nearing 11 lakh. As per the numbers till July 2017, the growth rate was high during the period, at almost 7.8 per cent. Meanwhile, the lowest growth rates were registered during August, September and October 2017, with negative growth of -9.05 per cent, -12.62 per cent and -3.14 per cent. Foreign tourists mainly focused and registered positive growth in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Wayanad districts, while districts like Kasargod, Kannur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kottayam, Kollam, Alappuzha registered negative growth in foreign tourist arrivals