Home > Business > Special
Kerala, world's fastest growing tourist centre
George Iype in Kochi |
July 15, 2003
Kerala -- God's own country -- has registered the world's highest growth in the tourism sector, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Encouraged by this and by the projections which say that tourism in Kerala is expected to see big growth in the coming years, the A K Antony government is organising a series of travel marts and tourism shows to promote the state as a unique tourism and travel destination.
On the agenda of the Kerala tourism department is an India International Boat Show, a gold festival across the cities, travel marts / roadshows in Germany, Singapore, China.
On the cards is also an exclusive travel mart -- Malabar Travel Mart -- to be organised in north Kerala.
According to Kerala's Tourism Minister K V Thomas, the state has registered the highest growth in the tourism sector in India in the last 10 years.
"Kerala registered a growth of 23.5 per cent in terms of visitor exports or external account earnings from travel and tourism in the past ten years. India's estimates for this entire period were 14.3 per cent," Thomas told rediff.com.
Recently the World Travel and Tourism Council announced that tourism in Kerala will grow by 11.4 per cent per annum over the coming decade.
"This is the highest recorded growth rate in the world. The state is set to eclipse Turkey, which has had the fastest growth rate (10.2 percent) in the tourism sector. The estimated annual growth rate for India is 9.7 per cent, while the world average is only 6.5 per cent," the WTTC said in its research report. The projection has been made in the Tourism Satellite Accounting Research report on Kerala.
The report said that in 2001, while India's visitor exports suffered a decline of 4.8 per cent as a result of 9/11 events, Kerala visitor-exports actually increased by 11 per cent over the 2000 results.
"This points to visitors feeling more secure in Kerala than in other parts of the country," it said.
Thomas said that the state government is "greatly enthused by the WTTC figures."
Tourism in Kerala is also expected to generate over $1.7 billion in terms of economic activity during the current fiscal year, and is seen growing to $6.6 billion by 2012. "We are now gearing up to promote tourism through unique shows and marts," the minister said.
The report has also made some policy recommendations for Kerala:
- Establish 'Development Authorities' for selected destinations.
- Encourage greater market and product diversification.
- Promote coastal cruises, luxury houseboats, water sports, Ayurveda, Kerala's cuisine and traditional festivals.
- Reconstitute Kerala's policy-making system.
- Place high priority on education and training.
- Improve airline access. The report underlines that access to Kerala as the single largest deterrent to travel in the state.
As a first step towards its tourism promotion, the Kerala government registered 'Kerala Tourism' as a brand for the first time in the country.
According to Thomas, Kerala Tourism as a brand will greatly boost the brand equity of the state's tourism promotions across the world.
To begin with, high-level teams of ministers and officials and tourism businessmen from the state will participate in the international tourism fairs to be held in China, Singapore and Germany this year.
From September 26 to 28, Kerala Tourism will organise -- for the first time in the country -- the India International Boat Show in Kochi.
Thomas said the boat show will be South Asia's premier boat and maritime event.
At least two dozen maritime companies from the United States and various European countries have already registered for the boat show. The show will comprise special segments for sports boating, leisure boating, defence boating, and boating equipment, technology and software.
According to Kerala Tourism officials, the participants in the boat show will include boat builders, boat handlers, boat interior designers, marina construction companies, shipyards and ports.
"The show will be the most comprehensive of its kind and we will cooperate with international trade fair organisers and boating media to ensure a world-class event," an official said.
Kerala Tourism is also organising a Gold Festival next month. To be held simultaneously in Kozhikode, Thrissur, Kochi, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram, the festival will showcase gold ornaments and other jewellery specialities of Kerala.
It will also play host to gold ornaments, clothes, gems, precious stones and cosmetic items from other states of India.
The report also says that while India's expenditure in below 1 per cent of the GDP, other countries spending much bigger amounts. China (3.8 per cent); Spain 9.5 per cent; Singapore 9.1 per cent; Hong Kong 7.4 per cent; Malaysia 5.1 per cent; France 4.7 per cent; Sri Lanka 4.0 per cent.