The proactive measures initiated by Kerala to contain the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus are a model for the rest of the world, but the state's economy has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the time is ripe to bolster the economy and generate revenue with resources at the state's disposal.
Here certain suggestions are listed that would propel the state economy to a high growth trajectory without any government capital infusion.
Comprehensive tourism 2.0
Kerala can improve its financial health by kick-starting a second revolution in comprehensive tourism. And for this, the state can take Singapore as a yardstick. Kerala has an aura of invincibility when it comes to providing superlative travel experience to tourists compared to other states.
The traditional art forms, village life experience, local cuisines, visits to handicraft centres and to traditional coir and cashew industries, and the age-old Ayurveda can fill the state's coffers. And the high net-worth Keralite investors should grab these business opportunities. Comprehensive service should be provided to the tourists after finding out their needs like in the retail sector where there is an integration of demands of a whole spectrum of customers.
Sustainable tourism packages should be formulated after considering all factors relating to tourists' visit to the state. The service network should include taxis or buses, homestays, houseboats, village life experiences and handicraft experts, among others.
How to campaign
Kerala tourism can be given ample exposure through current events such as Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Thrissur 'pooram,' boat races and Christmas and New Year celebrations. The travellers should get a feel of prawns farming and traditional fishing, and how the fish are cooked in an ethnic way. Moreover, a brand and market for seafood products from Kerala should be created. The conventional ways of cashew processing and coir making should also be exhibited to the tourists.
A synergy of hospital and hospitality
The state government should pull all the stops to highlight the health sector's competence in the next two years. Documentaries should be made, in association with foreign media, on the functioning of the state's health sector.
Both the health and hospitality sectors should work in tandem. Foreign patients, who underwent surgeries, should be given opportunities to select Ayurveda resorts to avail wellness services. Nurses who had worked in other countries can be an integral part of this venture.
The expertise of NRKs in foreign countries
A document should be prepared to list the various skill sets and work experience of NRKs returning from other nations. The state needs more management and technical experts. The pravasis who have returned home are capable of executing various projects including eco-tourism ventures.
'Kudumbashree' and women empowerment
The foreign tourists should know about the success story of Kudumbashree, and for this, they should be taken to 'anganawadis' and all-women educational institutions.
Use of basic facilities
Kerala should fully utilize the big-ticket projects such as shopping malls, multiplexes, convention centres, metro rail, mobility hub, seaports and airports. More people should be encouraged to use public facilities. The state should try to attract tourists and those planning to host mega conventions. The state should be projected as an ideal place to solemnize marriages of foreigners (destination wedding) in the world arena.
Centres of excellence in education
The campuses of prominent private universities in the US, Europe and Singapore should be established in the state. This will attract students from neighbouring countries to India. Cost-effective education programmes and Kerala's quality health system will augur well as the chances of students referring to the state as 'education destination' are pretty high.
Water sports centres
Kerala can play host to water sports events such as rowing and canoeing to attract tourists. Surfing is a big hit among many people and these ventures can be started with private participation.