Gloom to boom – The New Indian Express

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After the pandemic lull that lasted for over three years, the tourism industry is finally riding high and faring even better than pre-Covid times. According to industry insiders, the past four months have been far better than pre-Covid times.

Even though the inflow of foreign tourists has yet to pick up to pre-Covid levels, an exponential increase in the number of domestic tourists has helped the industry bounce back.

Stakeholders say, almost every accommodation unit is full during weekends at Varkala and Kovalam.

“Both domestic and local tourists are traveling more and staying at tourist destinations. Varkala and Kovalam are the most-preferred destinations in the capital. Especially during weekends, the destinations are getting more visitors,” says Sharon Veettil, secretary of, the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC).
“We are trying to scale up activities at every destination to engage tourists. We are expecting more crowds during vacation,” he adds.

As per statistics, around 1.88 crore domestic tourists visited Kerala in 2022. “Now 75% of the visiting tourists are domestic. The trend has changed and the industry is finally on the path of revival. The sector was on a downward spiral after the pandemic and the past four months have been exceptionally good. We did better than pre-covid times,” said G Sudheesh Kumar, the president of the South Kerala Hoteliers Forum (SKHF) and patron of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA).

According to him, the decline in the number of foreign tourists has not affected the industry. “The foreign tourists stayed longer and we used to give them accommodation units at a discounted rate as they were coming and staying here for a long duration. But now this trend has changed and domestic tourists who come here stay only for a few days and they pay well,” said Sudheesh Kumar.

Several stakeholders add another major trend that happened after the pandemic is the high demand for online travel aggregators for bookings. After Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram continues to be the most preferred destination for tourists visiting the country.

“Now a large chunk of the booking is happening online and earlier the involvement of travel and tour operators was high,” Sudheesh added.

Domestic tourists at Kovalam beach

Officials of the Tourism

Department say caravan tourism, wedding tourism campaigns and the upcoming G20 have helped the industry in a big way.

“Kumarakom is hosting one of the biggest G20 meetings, and earlier the destination was known for leisure tourism. It’s changing slowly and no doubt the G20 is going to help Kerala emerge as a major MICE tourism destination,” said the official.

The official add that many campaigns spearheaded by Kerala Tourism played a key role in helping the industry.

Russian travelers, foreign tourists

“Our aim is to bring back the foreign tourists and it’s going to take more time. Hopefully, it will happen next year. The market we are immediately aiming to tap is the Russian market. We are going to launch campaigns to project Kerala as a potential travel market in Russia,” said the official.

Cleanliness and garbage plague most of the tourism destinations in Kerala. “It’s not good to get a dirty destination tag and from the feedback we get from the tourists, they complain about the lack of cleanliness and heaps of garbage surrounding the destination. This issue needs to be addressed,” said Sudheesh.

Apart from routine clean-up drives, the tourism department has failed miserably to put in place a regular system to address the garbage crisis at tourism destinations. An official of the Tourism Department said that efforts are on to address the issue.

According to outbound tour operator Rajesh PR, the rise in temperature is one of the major concerns.
“We are doing really good and ships are coming to Kochi. We are getting travelers from all parts of the world. The temperature is an issue but tourists are happy,” Rajesh says.

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