Kerala’s tourism industry has seen a surge with many travelers coming to this state often referred to as the “God’s own country.” The state tourism has seen an increase in revenue to Rs. 24,000 crore earned in FY 2013-2014 compared to Rs. 22,000 crore the year before. The number of travelers have increased significantly to this stated and have topped off at 1.5 crore visitors.
Suman Billa, Secretary, Tourism, Government of Kerala was quoted in the Hindu Business Line saying – “the definition of a ‘tourist’ is amorphous. As someone traveling from Trivandrum to Kochi to visit his relative for a day or returning from a day’s business trip to Delhi, is also a traveler”. Kerala gets more than 10 lakh visitors as per this definition year on year.
Kerala’s growing GDP has tourism revenues as one of its key attributes. The foreign exchange that this activity brought in is worth around Rs. 5,000 crore in addition to the remittances sent from abroad. There are many tourists who spend more than $ 100 on a hotel room per night. This has been one of the main focuses for the tourism industry as traditionally this is considered as high-end tourism.
The idea is to generate the maximum revenue from the limited time that a tourist has when he or she is traveling through Kerala and this makes tourism similar to any other business. There are many different types of informal arrangements apart from the 60,000 hotel rooms excluding home stays in the ‘classified sector’ in Kerala’s tourism industry.
Ayurveda is considered to be one of the major draw for tourism. It attracts several foreign nationals along with Indian residents for Ayurvedic treatments which last anywhere from two to four weeks. The average stay of a foreign visitor for an Ayurvedic treatment is as high as 18.6 nights and this has increased from a previous 17.1 nights per visitor few years ago.
“We say it doesn’t matter that we have only a million international tourists; the important thing is to focus on increasing the length of stay. So we’re constantly adding new activities such as adventure, festivals, backwater journeys, village life experience through Responsible Tourism, to encourage people to extend their holiday,” Suman Billa said.
In the recent times domestic tourists from metros, Tier-II and Tier-III cities are opting from high-end tourism apart from international tourists who stay at the USD 100 per night category. USA has been emerging as a growing market apart from UK which has traditional been one of the major markets for Kerala.
The Eurocentric market is changing and with time Kerala is getting tourists from across the world. This has got the tourism industry in the state of Kerala to considering road shows and many other activities in the US market as it believes it as a long-haul destination capable of attracting several numbers of tourists visiting this state every year. Indian tourism has seen a slight growth but certain states such as Kerala are seeing tremendous growth over the last few years.