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Livelihoods hit as tourism bears the brunt of Kerala floods

The districts of Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Pathanamithitta, Thrissur and Wayanad, which have been most affected by the floods, are also among the top tourist destinations of Kerala.

New Delhi: Livelihood is set to be a big challenge for Kerala in the coming months, with the floods having taken a toll of the ₹ 30,000 crore tourism sector that accounts for 10% of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs around 1.4 million people.

The districts of Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Pathanamithitta, Thrissur and Wayanad, which have been most affected by the floods, are also among the top tourist destinations of Kerala.

“Yes, livelihood will be impacted severely. The state’s infrastructure has been destroyed and till that is repaired, we are not hopeful of too much tourist activity taking place. It might take two to six months for tourism activity to revive,” said a senior Kerala government official on condition of anonymity.

The August-October period is peak season for domestic tourists, while December-February is favoured by foreign visitors, said the official quoted above. In 2017, around 15 million people visited the state. “The state government will mobilise all resources to rebuild infrastructure and revive tourist activity. At present, the government has not made any plans about alternate livelihoods for those who are the part of tourism industry,” he said.

In 2017, Kerala earned a total revenue of ₹33,383.68 crore from tourism, including both direct and indirect earning. This was an increase of 12.56% over the previous year’s ₹29,658.56 crore. The major chunk of this revenue is from domestic tourism. According to Kerala Economic Review of 2017, around ₹15,500 crore was earned from domestic tourists, while foreign exchange earnings for the same year was ₹8,392.11 crore.


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One tourist in Kerala generates employment for 14-15 people, according to the Regional Tourism Satellite Account for Kerala Report 2009-10 commissioned by the ministry of tourism. These include both direct and indirect jobs.

The president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Pronab Sarkar, said all the tourist packages for Kerala have been cancelled now. “We don’t see any tour bookings for at least the next two months. Even after two months if the situation is better, infrastructure development and connectivity will be a big issue and it would decide how the tourists react,” he said.

Just last year, the state had come up with its Tourism Policy 2017 with the aim of increasing its current GDP from tourism to 30% in coming years. Under it the government had planned preparation of 30 year advance vision and development plans for various tourist destinations including Fort Kochi in Ernakulam and Kovalam-Poovar tourism corridor.

S.K. Sinha, partner Deloitte, says, “With tourism contributing 10% of state GDP, the state’s economy is going to get a hit. If we see 2017 earnings, around 60% of it comes from domestic tourists which travel during Monsoon that is August to October. So, domestic tourism is definitely impacted. In terms of foreign tourist, the season starts in December. So state will still have few months to revive their infra and not to lose that segment. However, it is going to be a challenging task from what I have heard from people.”