THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An eventful year is drawing to a close. It’s been a mixed bag of fortunes for the state, especially in the tourism sector, one of the main revenue generators for the Kerala economy. The year began with spectacular zooming growth, but towards the end of the year, the sector collapsed rather melancholically. However, at the end the day, as the year draws to a close, there are reasons for the state to cheer as the sector is on its way to regain its lost glory faster than expected.
According to the Tourism Department, if 9.58 lakh foreign tourists visited the state till November 2017, the number during the same period of this year was 9.56 lakhs; there is only a drop of just 0.22 per cent. While the domestic tourism sector saw 1.30 crore domestic tourist arrivals till November 2017, the number has swollen to 1.39 crore this year during this same period, showing a growth of 7.08 per cent.
Among various districts, Thiruvananthapuram is yet to come out of the impact as there is a cumulative 18 per cent drop in foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) till November 2018. On the domestic front, Thrissur has also witnessed a drop of 3.43 per cent till Nov 2018.
A senior tourism department officer told Express that this doesn’t mean that the sector has suffered only marginal loss. In fact, the first five months in the calender year saw a pretty well growth and then monthly growth nosedived after May as a result of Nipah virus outbreak and the August flood.
Since the first five months have seen good growth, the impact of the loss could be lessened when the overall growth in the year was calculated. Further, there has been a marginal growth in December when compared with the same period last year, he said. However, the tourism industry chose to differ from the official version of the tourism department. Abraham George, the member, National Tourism Advisory Council, said the sector has witnessed a total washout during the peak of the flood and in the subsequent months. And there is no logic in reaching such a hypothesis of 0.2 per cent drop in FTAs and 7.08 growth in domestic arrivals.
E M Najeeb, president, Confederation of Tourism Industry Kerala, said that first of all the tourist arrival calculation method followed by the department is irrational. Further, the impact of the loss cannot be fathomed from mere numbers alone. The industry has expressed its concern to the department in the tourism advisory meeting council held last week, he said.
Tourism Secretary Rani George said that even though the sector has suffered huge revenue loss during the time of the flood, the sector has the potential to come back to the growth track which is evident from the performance of the sector during the fag end of the year.