KOTTAYAM,INDIA (TIP): Asharp decline inarrival of foreigntourists to Keralais causing concernin the tourismindustry. Thedeclining trendthat started a fewyears agocontinuesunabated.T. Damu,director of Taj group of hotels and resortsin Kerala, said that foreign tourist arrivalshave declined considerably because ofrecession, escalating air fare andcontinuous rains during tourist seasons.
Major hotels that accommodateforeigners in Kumarakom said that thepeak season begins in October-November.They hoped that something positive wouldhappen to bring in more tourists this year.Tourism agencies and houseboat ownersare unanimous that there is already a lullin tourist activities mainly because of thedelay in issuing visa for internationaltourists and consequent cancellation oftours. Many foreign tourists coming toIndia have rescheduled their visits toneighboring countries such as Sri Lanka,Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand etc.The exorbitant rent for suites in starhotels, unethical and unaffordable taxi andauto rickshaw charges and above all themisconduct of touts and miserable hygieneproblems are theother reasons fortheir absence inGod’s own country.If a foreigner isspotted on theroad, autorickshaw driverscompete with oneanother to fleecethem.
Domestic tourist arrivals are alsosagging. Usually at the beginning of theseason, the domestic visitors arrive fromother States. This year, though the seasonhas already started, the arrivals ofdomestic visitors are yet to pick upmomentum. The poor inflow is affectingthe houseboat sector.Of about 1,000 houseboats atPunnamada, only around 150 are earningthe minimum to meet the daily expenses,said Mr Anil Kumar, owner of a newhouseboat based at Kumarakom.Houseboat owners have already incurredheavy losses because of stagnation intourism sector.Another impact is reported to be the ‘goslow’ in the sale of properties at primelocations in tourist spots where large areashave been bought by leading realtors, filmstars and others, hoping for big profits laterat the time of resale. In Kumarakom, manycelebrities have bought plots for setting upholiday homes.