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Tourists start returning to Kerala
 
More inflows during Navratri to help state get over flood miseriesTourists start returning to Kerala

First tourists have started flying into Kerala after the floods. Alleppey houseboats have started taking tourists including those from Turkey and United States. In a bid to revive the tourism sector in the flood-hit Kerala, officials from the state government have visited Gujarat for their first promotion campaign. Hard selling the once-in-twelve-year Neelakurinji blooms in Munnar, snake boat races in IPL formats, Jatayu Park and the river cruises, officials stated that 99 per cent of tourist destinations have been opened. They said tourist inflows during the upcoming festive season of Navratri will help the flood-battered state forget its miseries.

Almost all destinations now accessibleTourists start returning to Kerala


“From September 1, 99 per cent of the tourism destinations have already become accessible. Ninety-six per cent of the tourist accommodation units have been opened. All the airports and railway stations have started functioning. Bus routes and taxi services have also started operations,” said P Bala Kiran, Director of Kerala Tourism while visiting the trade fair and inviting Gujaratis who make up one-sixth of the total tourists visiting the state annually. Over 2.39 lakh Gujaratis visited Kerala in 2016. “This grew to 24.46 per cent in 2017-18,” he said. When asked why Kerala government was pushing tourism immediately after floods, the IAS officer said, “People question why so fast. We want to get back to normal because we want to forget the miseries. That can only happen when we invite the entire world to Kerala with a smile.”

Worst effected Kochi-Munnar road also functionalTourists start returning to Kerala


By August 29, all tourist destinations were cleaned of filth and silt left by the floods. “This is the first tourism destination we have come for promotion after the floods… “There is a huge inflow of tourists from Gujarat, Delhi and Kolkata during Navratri. We are having extremely high hopes for September and October which is the Navratri season,” Kiran remarked dispelling rumours of health, sanitation and connectivity. He said that even the worst affected Kochi-Munnar road has also become functional. Recounting the 2018 tourism year before floods ravaged the state, the director of Kerala Tourism said, “In the first quarter (January-March 2018), domestic tourism has grown almost highest in the last nine years by increasing 18.45 per cent. In the second quarter (April-June), it escalated by 15.93 per cent. We were so bullish that we had started huge monsoon campaign. This year is special because the Neelakurinji flowers (Strobilanthes Kunthianus) that bloom in Munnar was supposed to bloom after 12 years. Last bloom was in 2006… We were expecting to beat tourism of the first two quarters in the third quarter. Unfortunately, in God’s own country, the Gods were slightly unhappy and we have seen the worst floods since 1924.”

Hope to cash on Neelakurinji bloomingTourists start returning to Kerala


Announcing that the first tourists have started flying into Kerala after the floods, the official said how Alleppey houseboats have started taking tourists including those from Turkey and United States. He also pointed out that 600 tourists visited Munnar to see the Neelakurinji bloom last week. After the five southern states, the maximum domestic tourists visiting Kerala come from Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Rajasthan, UP and MP. The official said that tourism operators would be keen to give discounts to kick-start the tourist inflow. “Even then our third quarter tourist inflow figures will suffer. Onam is our main season and it is like Christmas holidays in the United States… This year, it was submerged in floods with all the tourist bookings cancelled.” Ajay Modi, who sends tourists groups to Kerala from Gujarat, said, “I sent the first group of tourists to Kerala on September 1. Originally the group was of 38 persons. Cancellations reduced the group to 26.”

 
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