Kerala Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Tuesday informed the state assembly that there was a 14.84 percent growth in tourism revenue and a 14.41 percent rise in tourist arrivals in 2008 as compared to 2007.
In reply to a question, Balakrishnan said that the number of domestic tourists visiting the state was 6.27 million in 2006, went up to 6.64 million in 2007 and touched 7.59 million in 2008.
The number of foreign tourists also grew from 429,000 in 2006 to 516,000 the next year and 599,000 in 2008.
Likewise, in revenue terms, a healthy growth was registered.
"The overall revenue from tourism, which stood at Rs.91.26 billion in 2006 grew to Rs.114.33 billion the next year and reached Rs.131.30 billion in 2008. Foreign exchange earnings also grew from Rs.19.88 billion in 2006 to Rs.26.41 billion and crossed Rs.30.67 billion in 2008," said Balakrishnan.
However, leading tour operator E.M. Najeeb told IANS that things are not that rosy this calendar year on account of the global economic downturn.
"Six months into the year, the industry has already seen its business drop by close to 30 percent. The fall in the number of foreign tourists is considerable and the need of the hour is to promote Kerala among domestic tourists," said Najeeb.
The state tourism department has decided to bring in a huge contingent of tour operators and travel journalists from abroad during the Onam season in September to boost the image of the state.
The peak season in tourism in the state begins in November and goes on till end of March.