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Natural calamities strike at wrong time for Kerala tourism

On path of revival after Covid-induced crisis, sector hit hard as tourists cancel bookings; homestays affected the worst, say stakeholders

Published: 21st October 2021 06:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st October 2021 06:12 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: The recent landslides and flood have turned out to be a spoiler for the tourism sector in Kerala which was on a path of revival after the Covid crisis. With the Pooja holidays, tourists from other states had started arriving in the state in good numbers before the natural disasters struck leading to booking cancellations in the past three to four days.

Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry (CKTI) president E M Najeeb said, “The industry was witnessing an improvement in tourist footfall after the Covid-related crisis when the natural calamities struck, that too in important tourist destinations, in the state. There have been a large number of cancellations in the recent days. Currently, there are bookings for next month. But if the weather and other conditions don’t improve, we will witness more cancellations. We hope the rain ceases and the situation improves for the tourism sector,” Najeeb said. 

The worst hit is the hospitality sector, especially homestays operating at the grass-roots level. According to homestay operators, most tourists who booked rooms have made last-minute cancellations. The cancellation is high at popular destinations. “The tourists from other states mostly stay at Munnar, Kumily, Kumarakom, Kochi and Alappuzha. After the news of landslides and flood spread, several tourists have made last-minute cancellations.

As warnings were issued against travelling through ghat roads due to possible landslides, tourists visiting Munnar have come down. Similarly, the flood in Kuttanad has prompted trip and stay cancellations at Alappuzha and Kumarakom. As there are news reports about another spell of heavy rain from Wednesday, tour and room cancellations will continue,” said Kerala Homestay and Tourism Society (HATS) director M P Sivadathan. 

According to him, there had been good tourists footfall since the beginning of October second week which was helping the tourism sector to overcome the business loss suffered due to the pandemic.  “The bookings were from Maharashtra, Gujarat, New Delhi, Haryana and Punjab. We also get guests from southern states. Even guests from within Kerala who had booked rooms for weekend trips also cancelled them in the last weekend as well as the upcoming weekend. We hope the situation will improve before Diwali holidays,” he said.

A top official of Kerala Tourism also expressed concern about the impact of the natural calamities on the industry. However, he said the situation will improve.  “The most positive aspect is that most tour operators, hotels and homestays have been receiving bookings even till the end of December. Though there have been cancellations, we hope the bookings made for the months of November and December will not be cancelled,” he said.

Dampener
With Pooja holidays, tourists from other states had started arriving in Kerala. Then, natural disasters struck leading to cancellations in the past three to four days

The worst hit is hospitality sector, especially homestays operating at the grass-roots



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