Allaying apprehensions about the preparedness of its globally famous destinations, Kerala announced that it is ready to receive tourists in all major places within a month after the state was convulsed by one of the most devastating floods in recent times.
"Tourism is a major contributor to Kerala's economy and a significant source for earning foreign exchange. The floods left the tourism industry in a state of disarrey and shock but now it has bounced back into business with renewed vigour, demonstrating its inherent resilience and determination to overcome the traumatic aftermath of the floods", Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said at a media interaction at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia in New Delhi.
Asserting that things are back to normal he said, restoration and rehabilitaion activities are in full swing. 'Road connectivity has been re-established. Flights are operating. Hotels and resorts are up and running. Kerala is back on tracks. God's own Country is ready to welcome tourists once again,' the minister said.
The minister said, there is a need to restore confidence of various stakeholders in tourism sector, both in India and in major foreign markets and assure travellers that the state's tourism and hospitality industry is fast returning to normalcy.
In this connection he drew attention to a 'Tourism Readiness Survey' which was recently conducted by the government with a detailed district wise and destination wise analysis of places, roads and other modes of conenctivity. The survey revelaed that leaving alone 13 destinations, all the rest out of the 10,000 are ready. Kerala Tourism has drawn up a time bound action plan. To reassure the world, the reopening of Cochin International Airport after floods was telecast live on Kerala Tourism social media channels recently.
The minister also informed, 'There is no restriction for using alcohol at any tourist destinations”.
Secretary Rani Geroge who accompanied the minister informed that the visitors had already started arriving in Kerala for the upcoming tourist season and that the first chartered flight carrying 60 tourists from Australia arrived in Kochi on September 15.
In a detailed and impressive presentation on Kerala’s revival activities with a title ‘Sun is out’ Secretary Rani George espoused that all the tourism destinations and hotels in Kerala have already been open for the tourists. All the roads to the tourism destinations have been repaired or reconstructed, except for some areas like Gavi-Wagamon which will be cleared sooner than later.
She informed that the Kerala Travel Mart,
a biennial Tourism Trade Fair that showcases the entire spectrum of Kerala's tourism industry to the world, will be organised soon. Till date, 545 international tourism buyers from 66 countries and 1090 domestic tourism buyers have registered for KTM, to be held in Kochi during September 27-30.Kochi-Muziris Biennale
will be held from 12 December 2018 to March 29, 2019. This contemporary art event in South Asia will be used as a platform that will have artists from all over the world taking part in Kerala's syncretic culture.
The government of Kerala is considering organising Champions Boat League
this year as planned earlier sending a message out that Kerala waters are safe for adventure activities as well.
Secretary George informed about a newly opened Jatayu Adventure Centre
near Thiruvananthapuram that would be a major attraction during coming tourist season. The centre houses the world's largest bird sculpture, a virtual reality museum, a state of the art ropeway and many other activities.
Kerala Tourism Department is organising FAM Tours for Travel writers, journalists meeting planners and travel agents, besides a new brand campaign to promote Kerala globally. Road shows have been planned in India and abroad to demonstarte Kerala's readiness to the world.
“We are planning to conduct FAM tours for the media personnel. There are also plans to participate in the London Travel Mart and to have a press meet there. Discussions are on, whether to have the Champions Boat League, which was postponed due to floods. New campaigns for the revival of the tourism industry will be commenced from next month,” said the Secretary Rani George.
On a question Director Tourism P Balakiran assured, “There are no epidemics in Kerala now. Some of the people, who were part of the rescue operations, got fever which was due to contact with contaminated water but now the issue is under control and the health ministry is monitoring the situation with utmost vigilance.”
“There will be intensive promotion campaigns for reinstating tourism in Kerala. Tourism industry has a great part in rebuilding Kerala. The state has envisaged a 12 point programme for the revival of tourism in the state, with priority to reconstructing the damaged roads.
“We should consider the fact that, no tourists were in trouble even at the worst situations during the floods. The authorities have taken adequate and prompt measures to rescue some of the tourists, who were stranded in some areas. It depicts our commitments towards our guests,” said P Balakiran, Tourism Director.
E M Najeeb, Senior Vice President of IATO (The Indian Association of Tour Operators) and Baby Mathew Somatheeram, President, KTM (Kerala Travel Mart Society) also have delivered their speeches on the occasion.