Adverse weather: Kerala tourism takes a hit

Rain-related calamities, repeated warnings from disaster response agencies, make state less inviting to tourists.
Representative image
Representative image

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : After a harsh summer severely impacted tourism, the monsoon, which is traditionally marketed as an ideal time to experience Kerala’s natural beauty, with its frequent and severe rainfall, has delivered a double blow to the sector. This has led to unforeseen shutdowns of key destinations.

The ban on visitors to eco-tourism centres, travel restrictions imposed by local authorities in areas prone to rain-related calamities such as landslides, repeated warnings from disaster response agencies and news on social media about these alerts have hit domestic tourist arrivals in the state. According to industry stakeholders, there has been a drastic decline in bookings and occupancy.

Many eco-tourism centres in Wayanad and Idukki districts were closed down following weather warnings, leading to the cancellation of tourist bookings. Visitor numbers from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi -- three major source markets for Kerala – have dipped significantly, leaving the industry high and dry. According to insiders, domestic tourist arrivals have dropped nearly 40% in the past two months.

According to Manzoor A R, corporate sales manager of Abad Hotels and Resorts, business didn’t pick up as anticipated after the general election. “Business is down 40% from last year. We have 14 properties at seven destinations and occupancy is yet to pick up. In Munnar and Thekkady, we are not even getting 50% occupancy during weekends. The rest of our properties are getting significantly less bookings. We did a market study and found that people are travelling to Georgia and Vietnam instead of coming here,” said Manzoor.

In 2023, around 2.18 crore domestic tourists visited Kerala, which was nearly 16% higher than a year earlier. The industry is hoping that the foreign tourist season, which kicks off from October, will be better.

“Arrivals from north India haven’t steadied yet and there was a drastic decline during the three-month election period. Though the hotel business has declined 30%, some of the city properties are doing well because of weddings and conferences. We are hoping for good foreign tourist arrivals this season,” said Vinesh Vidya, president of the Tourism Professionals Club.

Homestays are also feeling the heat. According to M P Sivadathan, director of the Kerala Homestay and Tourism Society (Kerala HATS), frequent weather disruptions are forcing domestic tourists to cancel bookings.

“Travel restrictions are imposed all of a sudden which causes huge inconvenience to tourists. The only positive factor is that people are now willing to travel irrespective of the season. So, we have the possibility of getting business round the year,” he added.

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The New Indian Express