THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kochi, the ‘queen of the Arabian Sea’, is the most popular tourist destination for both domestic and international visitors to the state. According to the statistics available with the Tourism Department, 2017 saw the highest domestic footfall in Kochi city with a total number of 23.05 lakh tourists visiting Kerala’s commercial capital.
According to the department, aspects like meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism, Lulu Mall, the Wonderla water theme park, and the metro nature of Kochi city seem to have pulled in more domestic tourists. Destinations such as Fort Kochi and Maradu also registered a significant rise in domestic footfall with tourist arrivals of 2.02 lakh and 98,047, respectively.
Kochi city is the favoured destination for foreign tourists. Kovalam came second and Varkala third. The fourth most preferred location for foreign tourists was Fort Kochi, followed by Thiruvananthapuram city, Alappuzha, Maradu in Ernakulam, Kumarakom, Munnar and Thekkady. Foreign travellers seemed to prefer hotels and other accommodation units in Kochi city when they toured Kerala.
Kovalam, which was the prime destination of international tourists till 2015, lost out to Kochi in 2016 and 2017. Meanwhile, beach destinations like Varkala and Poovar showed significant growth. While the growth rate of Kovalam was just 5 per cent in the last five years, Varkala registered a growth rate of 130.02 per cent in the last five years, with the total foreign footfall in Varkala rocketing to 1.33 lakh in 2017.