The devastating floods in Kerala had left its thriving tourism industry in a state of disarray and shock, but 'God's own country' has bounced back with renewed vigour, state Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said Monday.
He said all the major tourist places in the southern state were back to business and ready to receive tourists from around the world.
"Tourism is a major contributor to Kerala's economy and a significant source of earning foreign exchange. The floods left the industry in a state of disarray and shock, but it was only for a while.
"Now it has bounced back into business with a renewed vigour, demonstrating its inherent resilience and determination to overcome traumatic aftermath of the floods," Surendran said at a media interaction.
The tourism minister said restoration and rehabilitation activities were in full swing in the state, which faced one of the most devastating floods in decades that claimed over 300 lives and destroyed many properties.
"Road connectivity has been re-established. Flights are operating. Hotels and resorts are up and running. Kerala is back on track. God's Own Country is ready to welcome tourists once again," he said.
Surendran, who was accompanied by top officials of the state tourism department, said there was a need to restore confidence of various stakeholders in the tourism sector, both in India and major foreign markets, and assure travellers that Kerala's tourism and hospitality industry was fast returning to normalcy.
He said the state government has embarked on the reconstruction and repair works of roads on a war-footing, and primary connections have been established.
Pointing out that the visitors had already started arriving in Kerala for the upcoming tourist season, the minister said the season's first chartered flight carrying 60 tourists from Australia arrived in Kochi on September 15.
The Kerala Travel Mart (KTM), the biennial tourism trade fair that showcases the entire spectrum of the state's tourism industry to the world, will also be organised, he said.
Till date, 545 international tourism buyers from 66 countries and 1,090 domestic tourism buyers have registered with KTM, which is to be held in Kochi during September 27-30, he said.
Another high-profile event, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KBM), will also be held from December 12, 2018 to March 29, 2019, which will see the participation of artists from all over the world, the minister said.
Surendran also talked about the 'Tourism Readiness Survey,' which was recently conducted by the state government with a detailed district-wise and destination-wise analysis of places, roads and other modes of connectivity.
The survey revealed that only a handful of resorts needed to become operational. Based on this readiness, Kerala Tourism has drawn up time-bound action plans, he told media.
The minister said the Malabar region in north Kerala will be promoted in a big way after the opening of the Kannur airport soon.
He said that the government was also considering organising the Champions Boat League, tours for travel writers, and road shows.
Earlier this month, the reopening of the Cochin International Airport after the floods was telecast live on Kerala Tourism's social media channels.