Kerala's tourism sector suffers "mass cancellations" amid coronovirus scare
Kerala's tourism industry was gearing up to welcome more visitors in 2020, when it suffered the latest setback with all three positive cases of coronavirus in India being reported from the state, triggering "mass cancellations" of bookings.
Kerala -- “God’s Own Country” and one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia -- has been hit by coronavirus scare just when it was on the recovery path after the Nipah outbreak and back-to-back flood havoc in the past three years.
Kerala's serene beaches, tranquil stretches of backwaters, lush hill stations and exotic wildlife offer an enchanting experience to travellers worldwide and the tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy.
The tourism contributes to over 10 per cent of the GSDP and provides employment to over 1.5 million people in the state.
The industry was gearing up to welcome more visitors to showcase its unexplored inland locales, trekking trails and new romantic destinations in 2020, when it suffered the latest setback with all three positive cases of coronavirus in India being reported from the state, triggering "mass cancellations" of bookings.
The Nipah outbreak of 2018-19, two consecutive monsoon floods in 2018, the worst in a century, and last year had hit hard the state's tourism sector and it was slowly on the path of revival before the novel coronavirus came as a bolt from blue.
Three medical students from -- Thrissur, Alapuzha and Kasaragod -- studying in Wuhan University in China, have tested positive for the infection and 2,528 people put under home quarantine.
Ninety-three people are in isolation wards in various hospitals according to the latest figures.
Key players in the field have claimed that mass cancellations of hotel bookings and tour packages have already begun across the state.
After the Kerala government declared the coronavirus outbreak as a “state calamity”, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran admitted that the sector had suffered a hit.
The sector had aggressively launched promotional advertisements in the domestic and international markets after the floods to revive the sector. But all the efforts took a beating as there have been mass cancellations of hotel bookings amid the virus scare.
According to the Tourism department sources, during the 2019 calendar year, it was projected that there would be an 18 per cent growth in the domestic and 8 per cent in foreign tourist arrivals.
In the first nine months of 2019, (January to September) domestic visitors to the southern state touched 16.48 per cent against 4.8 per cent in the foreign tourist arrivals.
Noted travel and tourism entrepreneur E.M. Najeeb said that declaration of the epidemic as a “state calamity” by the government would adversely impact the economic situation in the state, PTI reported.
Jose Dominic, a key player in the hospitality industry, felt there are cancellations of hotel bookings but not as much as was being projected by the media.
Meanwhile, a senior official of the state Tourism Department said the exact number of cancellations were not yet available.