Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Jan 05, 2005
Industry & Economy
Tsunami hits tourist inflow to Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram , Jan. 4
THE tsunami phenomenon, which hit the Kerala coast along with the entire Asia Pacific region in the last week of December, has badly affected the State's tourism industry.
Though the killer waves caused major damages to only some low-lying parts of Kollam and Alappuzha districts, they cut across the tourist flow to the beach and backwater destinations during the peak season of Christmas and New Year week, according to Mr K.C. Venugopal, Minister for Tourism.
He told newspersons here on Tuesday that while the Thiruvananthapuram-based major hotels showed no cancellations during the week, the Kovalam-based hotels recorded five per cent cancellations. In Alappuzha and Ernakulam, the cancellations were to the tune of eight per cent and two per cent, respectively. Kozhikode reported nine per cent cancellations.
Overall, the major beach and backwater resorts and hotels in the State recorded less than 10 per cent cancellations during the last week of December, the Minister said.
However, the scenario in the first week of January this year is not encouraging with hotels at beaches and backwaters reporting 20 per cent to 30 per cent cancellations. The Tourism Department fears that the situation will persist during the ongoing season in the wake of the global trend to avoid travelling to South Asian and South East Asian countries.
Incidentally, there were also reports about additional reservations in some of the resorts resulting from the cancellation of trips to the more affected areas such as Maldives and Sri Lanka, the Minister noted.
He said that the Tourism Department was taking all efforts to minimise the impact of tsunami on the industry. For instance, a 24-hour control room had been opened at the Directorate of Tourism to inform the tourists as well as their relatives on the happenings in the State.
The department had sent messages through e-mail on December 27 itself to all the tourist offices of the Government of India across the world and to all major tour operators and travel agents that Kerala destinations were not affected by tsunami. The messages also highlighted the fact that the State has a number of diverse tourism products such as Ayurveda and hill stations other than beaches. Besides, the department has convened a meeting on December 30 with representatives of the tourism industry to assess the situation and work out an action plan.
The Minister said that the Government did not expect any reduction in the number of tourists to the State in the coming year. However, the growth rate is likely to fall and this will affect the State's earnings from tourism.
It is reckoned that a fall in the growth rate of foreign tourist arrivals by 10 per cent will result in reduction in foreign exchange earnings by Rs 150 crore, while a 10 per cent reduction in the total tourist arrivals will cause a loss of over Rs 500 crore to the State exchequer.
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