International tourist traffic has grown consistently growth over the years, reaching a figure of 1.4 billion arrivals in 2018. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, international tourism has been hit significantly, with estimates of the recovery period varying from one to several years. United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that international tourist arrivals could drop 60 to 80 per cent in 2020, with revenue losses of up to 1.2 trillion USD.

The tourism industry in Kerala is characterised by its world-renowned brand, consistent growth, diverse products and multiplicity of local enterprises. Although international tourist arrivals and domestic arrivals have shown steady growth over the years, growth was affected by the natural disasters faced by the State in 2018 and 2019, and hit severely by the pandemic.

We draw attention to certain specific characteristics of the tourism sector in Kerala:

  1. Over 90 per cent of tourist arrivals are domestic tourists, that is, from other parts of India.
  2. The sector provides foreign exchange earnings of Rs 8,746 crores and earnings from domestic tourists of Rs 19,475 crores a year
  3. The districts of north Kerala account for only 5 per cent of total international arrivals.
  4. Over 80 per cent of enterprises in the tourism sector are small and local enterprises.
  5. Official figures show a substantial impact in terms of contribution to State GDP and employment; at the same time, the impact of tourism on the economy needs more detailed study.

The session on tourism will consider the following themes:

  • Changing trends in international tourism: this theme will examine international trends in tourism, drawing on studies on changing preferences of international travellers. Experiences of similar and competing destinations will be analysed in order to gain insights into new markets and segments that need attention.
  • Responsible tourism: Kerala has taken the lead in implementing the concept of responsible tourism in selected destinations, and is seen as a world leader in promoting equitable tourism, providing benefits to local communities and inculcating values of environmental and cultural responsibility. This session will examine how to broad-base responsible tourism, and the future economic impact of the programme.
  • Segmentation in domestic tourist arrivals: The growth of tourism in Kerala depends on its position as an attractive destination for domestic tourists. Outbound tourism pushing travellers to destinations abroad will be the biggest competition for Kerala. This session will examine the strategies that the State needs in order to become a destination of choice for various types of domestic travellers, particularly the young professional, the adventure tourist, and the nuclear family.
  • Government investments in tourism: India – and Kerala – has followed a peculiar public investment model, with government funds being channelled to build infrastructure in destinations. This is in contrast to other parts of the world, where such investments are made by local governments with a view to attract more local investment.
  • Skill development in the tourism sector: This session will look at human resource requirements in tourism in different parts of the world, and examine how the youth of Kerala can be better skilled to take advantage of emerging opportunities both within the country and abroad.
  • Towards sustainable growth: Global tourism, before the pandemic, grew 4 per cent annually. South Asia registered a higher growth rate (5 per cent per year), while India was one of the high growth destinations in the region. After strong growth in the first decade, Kerala has seen a declining trend in the growth rate over the last eight years, with 1.1 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2018, an increase of 0.4 per cent over the previous year. On the other hand, domestic arrivals have registered a consistent trend, growing 6 to 7 per cent annually, with 15.6 million arrivals in 2018 (a year-on-year growth of 6.35 per cent). We should aim for a target of 10 per cent per annum growth in foreign arrivals, while maintaining 7 per cent growth in domestic arrivals. The session will examine the strategies and programmes that are needed to meet these targets.

The expert participants in the session will include: Mr Suman Billa, Director, UNWTO, Madrid; Professor Nimit Ranjan Chowdhary, Head, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Jamia Millia Islamia University; Mr Dipak Deva, CEO, Destination Management, India and South Asia, SITA; Mr Shannon Stowell, Adventure Travel Trade Association, and Dr Harold Goodwin, Founder Director, International Centre for Responsible Tourism, United Kingdom.

Kerala State Planning Board.
Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram KERALA 695 004