Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], June 10 (ANI): To tide over the COVID-induced crisis in the tourism sector, Kerala will develop new heritage and pilgrimage tourism destinations to attract maximum domestic tourist arrivals, said Tourism Minister PA Mohammed Riyas on Thursday.
To tap the full potential of heritage and pilgrimage tourism, he said,"During this period, one of the main aim is to alleviate the fear and concern of tourists regarding COVID-19. To address this, already those working in the tourism sector including resorts, hotels and restaurants have been declared as front-line workers and COVID vaccination has been started."
"In a tie-up with health department all those in major tourism destination like taxi drivers and guides will be vaccinated before July 15 to declare it as 100 per cent vaccinated destination," said Tourism Minister.
Replying to questions in Kerala Assembly, Tourism Minister said that in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Kerala tourism industry that contributes to 11 per cent to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), incurred a loss of Rs 33,675 crore.
"There was a steep fall in foreign and domestic tourist arrivals to the state. In the present COVID scenario, Kerala will be focusing on domestic tourists rather than foreign tourists. In 2019, 1.83 crore domestic tourists arrived in Kerala and by 2025 we have set a target of 3.65 crore domestic tourist arrivals," said Riyas.
In an effort to promote domestic tourism, he said Kerala government is working on a financial package to support the tourism industry.
He said that Rs 30 crore has been earmarked in the recent budget for the tourism industry.
"To address the issues of the tourism industry, a meeting with 18 tourism associations was conducted. We are charting out plans to support Homestays, houseboats, tour operators and guides in the tourism sector. Kerala Financial Corporation is also providing subsidised loans for tourism investors to overcome the financial crisis due to COVID-19," Minister added. (ANI)