Indians make up for the slack in Kerala tourism1 min read . Updated: 22 Aug 2018, 04:54 PM IST
The growth in the number of foreign tourists visiting Kerala is slowing down, but domestic tourists are making up for the slack
Kerala became an essential fixture on the international travel circuit in the early 2000s, emerging as the world’s fastest growing tourist destination for international travellers, and kept up the momentum through investments and marketing.
Now, however, the Kerala tourism industry is at the crossroads.
The growth in number of foreign tourists has reduced gradually in recent years—7% in 2014, 6% in 2015 and 2016, and 5% in 2017. Domestic tourist influx, however, grew by 10% last year. Tourism accounts for about 12% of Kerala’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Kerala floods impact on tourism
The torrential rain and the resulting floods hit Kerala in a month traditionally weak for tourism. After May, domestic tourist arrivals resume after August. Kerala attracts maximum number of foreign visitors from November to March. Arrivals peaking in December when both foreign and domestic tourists flock to the state. Now, with the Kerala rebuilding itself after the floods, the question remains whether it will be ready for the peak tourist season in the upcoming months.
Kerala tourism hotspots
Domestic tourism is concentrated in three districts—Ernakulam, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram—while foreign tourists choose to visit Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. In 2017, Ernakulam district accounted for 22% of the total domestic tourists, and 42% of the total foreign tourists.
From 12% to 20%
The Kerala government wants to increase tourism’s share to 20% of state GDP by 2020, from about 12% at present. In 2017, foreign exchange earnings amount to ₹ 8,393 crore, a quarter of the total revenue generated from tourism, up 50% since 2013.
While the growth rate for total revenue from tourism increased from 9% in 2013 to 13% in 2017, the growth rate of forex earnings has dropped from 15% to 8% during the same period. These trends—as well as the district-wise tourists in the previous chart—suggest that the government can achieve its 20% target mainly through domestic tourists. This would mean that investments will have to be more spread out, and beyond the tourism hotspots such as Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram.
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