Gone are the days, when chartered flights carrying foreign tourists used to line up at the airports in the state from all parts of the globe. Many tourism hotspots, which once thrived on the arrival of the chartered flights, are no longer the favourite destinations for globe-trotters.
The Kovalam beach is a typical example. According to the tour operators, many hotels and resorts witnessed less than usual or no bookings at all prior to the peak season from October to December.
“Countries like Maldives and Sri Lanka are giving cut-throat competition to Kerala. The island nations are now coming up with quality services with attractive packages resulting in the exodus of tourists,” said N Unnikrishnan, proprietor of Jay Maruthi Holidays, Alappuzha. He said that flight charges and hotel rates here have gone up phenomenally, which is another reason that prompts many tourists to opt for other destinations.
“When tourists can avail of quality services at affordable prices elsewhere, why should they opt for the inferior facilities available here,” he asks.
Vinesh Vaidya, secretary of Tourism Professional Club (TPC), said that many international companies like Somac, Manos and First Choice are opting for European destinations rather than God’s Own Country.
“Now, the tourists choose countries like Spain which just takes two hours by air, whereas a ten-hour journey is required to reach Kerala. In between that, the flight invariably stops at Bahrain for fuel re-fill. The strenuous hours of journey are cut down by opting for European destinations,” he said. Above all, the global recession has badly hit the tourism sector, he added.
Tour operators also cite global recession as one of the major factors that has rocked the tourism sector.
“The situation is such that in order to witness a flux of European tourists to India, it would take at least two years,” he said. Sri Lanka has made progress by leaps and bounds when it comes to tourism. “The political instability in the island nation has mellowed down to a large extent. Besides, the facilities there are comparatively cheap, and the destination is way ahead of Kerala on the cleanliness aspect,” they said.