Foreign tourists make up for shortfall in domestic visitors’ inflow to Kerala

Even as foreign tourists keep trickling into Kerala, defying the unusually sultry weather this summer, the inflow of domestic tourists has reduced. Tourism stakeholders are keeping their fingers crossed, since the summer vacation season beginning in April generally sees domestic tourists visiting Kerala’s popular destinations.

A senior official of Kerala Tourism drew a stark contrast between domestic tourist inflow to the State in April-May in the past years and this year. “The dull response this year can be attributed to the unusually sultry weather here and a good share of government officials being held up with poll preparation. These officials generally opt for leave travel allowance (LTA) during this time of the year, since it coincides with the annual vacation of their children. However, many foreign tourists have chosen to visit Kerala this time,” says the official.

Expressing concern at the lull in arrival of domestic tourists, Jobin Akkarakalam, general secretary of Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society, said many domestic tourists preferred to travel abroad than to Kerala, since tourism players in Sri Lanka, South-East Asian and European countries were offering competitive rates. “Kerala’s liquor policy, which does not allow liquor to be served in hotels and bars after 11 p.m., and the lack of nightlife here, could be deterring many from visiting the State.” High airfares too could be a reason for people opting for overseas travel, according to a story published in The Hindu.

Confirming the unprecedented fall in bookings from domestic tourists since March, a tour operator said that even popular hill stations like Munnar were witnessing a fall in number of tourists. The domestic tourism season generally kicks in from April. “This time, there is a fall in bookings from domestic travellers to Kerala and that could extend to May-June as well,” said Sajeesh Nadakhakath, manager of a luxury hotel in Fort Kochi.

Tourism stakeholders hope to make up for the shortfall in inflow of domestic tourists by focusing more on hosting tourists from Europe, U.S., and Australia. The wars in Ukraine and the Middle East have led to a fall in the number of Russian and Israeli tourists visiting the State, it is learnt.

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