KOCHI: The tour agencies providing packages to a destination abroad are feeling the heat as the outbound tourism from Kerala to Sri Lanka to take a hit following the terror attack. Even though direct flights to Colombo are still operational, tour agents fear of trip cancellations to Sri Lanka following the recent developments there.
Last year around 4.5 lakhs tourist from India had visited the Island nation. Over 50,000 travellers from Kerala have visited Sri Lanka in the same period. Sri Lanka is one of the most visited tourist destination abroad by travellers from Kerala. However, tourism agents in the backdrop of terror attack anticipate several cancellations of packages in the coming days. "There will be anxiety among the travellers from Kerala who have chosen Sri Lanka for the holiday trip. Similarly, there will be restrictions to visit all the tourist destination there in the backdrop of the terror attack which may turn out to be a reason for more cancellations. Some of the tourists are cancelling the package while some are preferring alternative packages to Singapore and other South East Asia countries," EM Najeeb, president, Confederation of Tourism Industry Kerala said.
Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) Kerala Chapter chairman Paulose Mathew said peak time for tourist from Kerala to Sri Lanka is in the month of April. The flights to Colombo from CIAL and Thiruvananthapuram were fully filled. "The effect of the terror attack will be felt in the long run. Safety is one of the top priority for tourists visiting foreign countries. If any travel advisory on visiting Sri Lanka is issued, the situation will worsen further," he said.
On the other hand, Kerala tourism might witness an increase in the footfall of foreign tourist following the developments at Sri Lanka. Paulose Mathew said Sri Lanka Tourism made fast growth in the past two years. The tourist destined to arrive in Kerala were attracted to packages provided by Sri Lanka. "After the end of civil war at Sri Lanka, the UN Council had brought out a resolution for the development of the island nation. As part of which, US, Canada and European nations promoted travellers to visit the Asian country. In the aftermath of the terror attack, there are possibilities that tourists may prefer Kerala tourism over Sri Lanka tourism. Kerala has geographical similarities with Kerala. The climate in Sri Lanka is also similar to Kerala. The packages provided at Sri Lanka are similar to one provided in Kerala," he said.
However, to promote tourism, Kerala will have to form an action plan to counter frequent hartal which has an adverse effect on the tourism sector. Similarly, the security of tourism, especially of women tourism, should be given utmost priority. "Kerala tourism can attract tourists who will look for alternative destinations following the terror attack. If proper steps are taken, foreign tourist arrival increase in Kerala," EM Najeeb said.