Kerala needs more homestays, budget hotels: Minister

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Kochi, Jul 26 (UNI) Kerala Tourism and Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan today said the state needed at least 5,000 more homestays and more budget hotels to cater to the increased demand of tourists.

Inaugurating the Kerala Homestay and Tourism Society (Kerala Hats) here, Mr Balakrishnan said unused houses built by non-resident Keralites could be used as homestays. Even unused rooms in occupied houses could be let out to tourists, he added.

Stating that government recognition was essential for homestays, the minister called for better marketing of these through tourism fairs, tour operators and websites.

He said demands raised from certain quarters for waiver of luxury tax and commercial power tariffs for the tourism sector were being looked into by the government.

Speaking of the increasing popularity of Kerala as a tourist destination, Mr Balakrishnan said the state now ranked tenth in a list of global tourist spots.

State Tourism Secretary V Venu said homestays would help tourists to get a better idea of the state. Marketing of these facilities remained the main challenge before homestays, he added.

Former state Tourism Minister and Chairman, Kerala Hats, K V Thomas said the society would help to address the issues faced by homestay operators and also help its members to promote their business.

Among others, present on the occasion, were Kerala Tourism Development Corporation Chairman Cherian Phillip and UNDP Tourism Projects Consultant Sudhir Sahi.

UNI ARC SJ RJ VC1925

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