Tourist inflow to the God’s own country, Kerala, has crossed the 10-million market in 2011, taking the total to 10,11 million, as against 9.2 million in 2010, according to the latest data of the state’s tourism department.
The number of foreign tourists increased to 732,980 in 2011, as against 659,265 in the previous year, whereas the inflow of domestic tourists increased to 9.3 million as against 8.5 million.
There has been a 350 per cent increase in the number of overseas travelers during the last decade, as the year 2001 recorded visits of 208,830 tourists. In 2001, the number of domestic tourists was 5.2 million.
According to AP.Anilkumar, tourism minister of Kerala, the total revenue from the tourism sector increased to Rs 19,037 crore in 2011, as against Rs 17,348 crore in 2010. Foreign exchange revenue also increased to Rs 4,222 crore, as against Rs 3797 crore, he said.
There has been a five-fold jump in the revenue during the last 10 years as in 2001 the total revenue was Rs 4,500 crore. The services sector of the state, to which tourism sector contributes the most, constituted 66.28 per cent of the state’s GDP in 2010.
The Kerala tourism department has unleashed a set of programmes to enhance the inflow of tourists to the state, which include road shows in Gulf countries, especially in Saudi Arabia. The department also gives a thrust to the northern Malabar region, which hitherto was not explored seriously.
The state government has announced a special package ‘Eastern tourism Corridor’ for the development of tourism in northern districts. It has also announced a flagship project ‘Know Bekal’ a promotional campaign for Bekal, a sea based tourism project near Kasargode.
At present, small and medium enterprises dominate the tourism ventures in the state, including the 1,000-plus, world-acclaimed house boats. According to the department’s data, the tourism sector provides employment to 1.2 million.
The Kerala tourism department has recently announced ‘Dream Season’ to market the monsoon season, which ends in September. The stakeholders have announced various packages, including the monsoon season ayurveda treatment. Traditionally, the tourists’ season of the state is September–January.
But now, the tourism sector in the state, with the strong support of the government, is marketing the state as an-all-season tourism destination. The festival season of Kerala, which begins with Onam in August- September, and ends by May, also attracts hundreds of tourists.