Kochi, Sep 18 (UNI) The tourism sector in Kerala earned three times more foreign exchange than the IT Industry last year and yet the State Government does not give it the same incentives, Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society President E M Najeeb said today.
Talking to newspersons here to announce the holding of the Fifth Kerala Travel Mart here from September 20-23, Mr Najeeb said the tourism industry earned Rs 2,700 crore in foreign exchange compared to Rs 800 crore by the IT industry last year.
''Given the right incentives and promotion, the tourism industry, which presently employs one million people, could easily double the job opportunities to over two million,'' he added.
However, despite the infrastructure and other bottlenecks, which included poor roads, room shortages and frequent strikes, the tourism sector in Kerala was on the upswing, he said.
The State saw a 20 per cent growth in foreign arrivals to 500,000 last year. The domestic arrivals grew by seven per cent to about 6.2 million.
He said more than Rs 1,000 crore was invested in the tourism sector during the past year, including investment by foreign hotel chains and Non-Resident Indians(NRIs).
To some extent, these investments would relieve the scarcity of almost 8,000 rooms felt by the State during the tourism season.
Kerala presently had about 12,000 rooms while the demand during the peak season was for minimum 20,000 rooms.
Asked about the fallout of the frequent terrorist strikes in different parts of the country on tourism, Mr Najeeb opined this led to only temporary setbacks.
Citing the case of Indonesia, which had bounced back after the Bali bombings, Mr Najeeb stated India is a safe destination and this is the message sent across the world by the Indian Government and tour operators.
UNI ARC KVV SV BD1710