Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is making serious efforts to regain its top position on the world tourism map in the post-COVID-19 scenario with a number of attractive projects and investment opportunities, the state’s Tourism Minister P A Muhammad Riyas has said.

Taking part in a news conference held as part of the ‘Kerala Week’ organised at ‘Expo 2020’ in Dubai, he invited Keralites working in the UAE to be partners in the growth of Kerala’s tourism as well as other industries.

“The new tourism-related programmes launched by the state which offer investment opportunities include caravan tourism, experience tourism, exploring the potential of Malabar area, bringing unexplored destinations to the tourism map and adventure tourism following all safety norms,” said the Minister.

“Kerala’s strengths have been backwater tourism, facilities for MICE tourism, several world-class resorts, farm stays, adventure tourism and tour operations. Investors can also check out these options too,” he added.

Riyas is leading a delegation from Kerala to the expo which includes Additional Chief Secretary (Tourism) Dr Venu V and Tourism Director V R Krishna Teja.

Explaining the advantages for investors in Kerala, the Minister said that a system is in place to grant the necessary clearances without delay. “In addition, Kerala Tourism is renowned all over the world for its marketing programmes and as a promoter of private entrepreneurship,” he pointed out.

Referring to the recently-launched subsidised caravan tourism project, the Minister said that 297 investors had enrolled to operate caravans and 78 to arrange caravan parks.

Post-COVID-19 wellness
Maintaining health after being affected by the COVID-19 infection is crucial, said the Minister. “Kerala already has excellent medical facilities and Ayurveda treatment centres which could be utilized by people in West Asia, including UAE,” he said.

Close to nature
Another attraction of Kerala is its rich greenery, with 30 per cent of the area covered with forests. “Several areas in the Western Ghat mountains offer facilities for adventure tourism such as trekking. These activities will attract young travellers,” said Riyas.

The state has 15 wildlife sanctuaries, two tiger reserves, five national parks and over 60 ecotourism centres, offering a feast for wildlife lovers.

Responsible Tourism
Kerala has attracted international attention for its ‘Responsible Tourism’ programmes also. “The aim of this effort is to promote tourism with social participation. In fact, sustainable growth has been the state’s major features,” said Riyas.

Ties with UAE
During the recent visit of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to the UAE, he was hosted a reception by the Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. “This gesture will go a long way in strengthening the historically-strong relationship between Kerala and UAE,” said Riyas.

He recalled the generosity of the UAE ruler and several expatriate Keralites in offering aid to the state after the devastating floods in 2018 and 2019. “Thanks to the far-sighted view of the Chief Minister, Kerala was able to overcome these natural calamities,” said Riyas.

Brand ambassadors
Meanwhile, the Minister urged expatriate Keralites in the UAE to be brand ambassadors of Kerala Tourism by launching innovative projects in the state.

Tourism Additional Chief Secretary Venu said that Kerala offers world-class tourism facilities. “UAE is among the major markets of Kerala Tourism. Kerala can achieve rapid growth over the next five years in the tourism sector with support from the UAE. Before the pandemic struck, there were around 12 daily flights between Kerala and UAE. With the Kannur Airport added to the flight map, more services can be launched,” he said.

Vaccination status
According to Tourism Director Krishna Teja, Kerala has successfully overcome the COVID-19 crisis under a strong political leadership. “Everyone involved in the tourism sector were vaccinated in the first phase itself. As a result, the state government has ensured the safety of tourists to Kerala,” he pointed out.


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