• Foreign tourist arrivals and consequently foreign exchange earnings grew at a lower pace in 2015 over 2014 in Kerala. In Picture: Dancers participate in festivities marking the start of the annual harvest festival of "Onam" in the southern Indian city of Kochi August 29, 2014.Reuters file
  • Devotees throng to Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple after offering prayers on the eve of Pongala festival in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala Feb. 18, 2011.Reuters file
  • Oarsmen row their snake boats during the Nehru boat race in the waters of Punnamada Lake in Alleppy, about 55 km (34 miles) south of the southern Indian city of Kochi August 8, 2009.Reuters file

Foreign tourist arrivals to Kerala, popularly as "God's own country" in the tourism industry, saw muted growth in 2015 over 2014, impacting on foreign exchange earnings. A trade body member attributed the trend to increasing preference for North Indian tourist destinations among foreign visitors.

In calendar year 2015, 9,77,479 foreign tourists visited Kerala, up 5.86 percent from 9,23,366 visitors in the previous year. The growth rate marked a decline from 7.60 percent in 2014, according to Kerala Tourism data. The growth rate is also a four-year low.

Similarly, foreign exchange earnings (in Indian currency) from foreign tourists grew 8.61 percent to Rs. 6,949.88 crore over Rs. 6,398.93 crore in 2014. However, earnings had increased at 15.07 percent in 2014 over the previous year when the earnings stood at Rs. 5,560.77 crore.

Kerala is one of the active states promoting tourism in India and abroad by participating in various roadshows and events across the world. Last year, the state aggressively promoted itself as a tourist destination in Japan, its first roadshow in the country. 

"The road show in Tokyo is a significant step for us to position our state as a top destination for Japanese travellers as well as a MICE destination for CEOs of its major companies to conduct meetings and conferences," AP Anil Kumar, minister for tourism, Kerala government, had said in a statement on the occasion.

The fall in growth rate was attributed to a preference for tourist spots in north India, especially among tourist from emerging nations, according to Anish Kumar P.K, president, Association of Tourism Trade Organisations, India, the Hindu reported. 

Domestic tourist arrivals, earnings also fall

Domestic tourist arrivals from other parts of the country to Kerala also saw a fall in 2015 when compared to the previous year.

The state received 1.25 crore (1,24,65,571) Indian tourists during the year, an increase of 6.59 percent over the previous year's 1.17 crore (1,16,95,411) arrivals. The corresponding rates of growth in the previous years were 7.71 percent (2014), 7.75 percent (2013) and 7.41 percent (2012).

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