‘Vizhinjam project a threat to tourism’
The Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA) passed a resolution here on Sunday, which said that the proposed Vizhinjam Container Transshipment Port Project, if implemented, would put an end of the flow of foreign tourists to the State.
The two-decade-old Kovalam - Vizhinjam-Poovar tourism belt will be completely washed away with this port project as the environmental impact of the project would be much worse than projected, association officials told the media on the sidelines of the core committee meeting held here.
“Currently, the reports and data studies prepared by the State Government and authorised consultants portray the consequences in a ‘very light way’ and acknowledge the fact that it will not provide much employment opportunity for local people. The reports prepared by these consultants promise a maximum of 500 local jobs after 30 years, while the flourishing tourism segment provides far better avenues than this projected figure.
‘’The analysis done by the association members illustrates the fact that Indian shipping industry is going through rough weather and existing ports are struggling to gain business, thus posing a question on the viability of a transshipment port in an industrially inactive Kerala,” KHRA office-bearers said.
According to official tourism statistics, the capital district alone generates over Rs 6,000-crore revenue for Kerala annually and Kovalam, Vizhinjam and Poovar regions provide direct employment for 20,000 persons. The tourism sector in Kerala has been growing at an average rate of over 12 per cent every year for the past decade. The Kovalam-Vizhinjam-Poovar belt accounts for approximately 50 to 60 per cent of Thiruvananthapuram district’s revenue and these areas are one of the most preferred destinations for foreign tourists.
Foreign tourists who visit this region are long stay guests and repeat visitors who choose this area after travelling all over the world.
“When we calculate the total loss to the State exchequer if this tourism belt is destroyed, then the loss for 30 years of business with corresponding growth of just 6 per cent for calculation amounts to Rs 2.5 lakh crore. In addition, tourists who visit Kerala are attracted to visit the Kovalam-Vizhinjam- Poovar region and they then visit other locations such as backwaters and north Kerala destinations. If the prime attraction of Kovalam beach is destroyed, then the multiplier effect loss to tourism in Kerala can be much higher than what is estimated,” observed the KHRA core committee.