THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) to the state have picked up momentum, sparking hopes for the sector. FTAs to Kerala registered a growth of 4.92 per cent in December than those in the same period the year before. As per statistics with the Tourism Department, as many as 1,41,755 foreign tourists visited the state in December, 2018, compared to 1,35,113 in December, 2017.
This, even as the state reeled from the aftermath of the floods, besides facing a series of hartals and getting embroiled in the row over Sabarimala. Tourism Department officers said the growth in FTA assumed significance considering the fact FTAs were showing a negative trend between May and November.
While FTAs fell to -7.43 per cent in last May, they dropped to their lowest, -18.46 per cent, in August and -18.16 per cent September. The growth in December, which traditionally coincides with the beginning of the peak tourist season in the state, is now indicating towards a bright season ahead, said officers.
0.42 pc total growth
The tourism stats of 2018 also revealed that despite the adversities the state faced, FTAs to Kerala registered a positive growth of 0.42 per cent with the total footfall touching 10.96 lakh against the 10.91 lakh FTAs in 2017. The Tourism Department has been anticipating a growth of about 12-15 per cent during 2018 in the backdrop of the 5.15 per cent growth the FTAs registered in 2017.
Despite the negative impact, the domestic tourism sector saw positive growth of 6.35 per cent in 2018 with 1.67 crore tourists arriving at the state against 1.57 crore in 2017. The first five months of 2018 saw above-average growth in domestic and foreign tourism sectors, allowing the state to register a positive growth despite adverse market conditions.
Reason to worry
Having said this, the industry still has much to worry about considering the growth pattern of tourism in the state last year. Thrissur was the only district in Kerala which registered a negative growth in domestic tourism in 2018.
Tourism officers said this was mainly because of the dip in pilgrims’ arrival in Guruvayur in connection with the Sabarimala controversy. As for FTAs, Thiruvananthapuram continued to register the highest shortfall with a decrease of nearly 78,000 foreign tourists in 2018 than 2017.