Homestays and Rural Tourism Travel Meet 2017 Draws Good Response

Kochi: “Kerala is poised to maintain its lead in the tourism sector due to its popular homestays,” according to Kadakampally Surendran, State Tourism Minister. He said this while inaugurating the second edition of the three-day Homestays and Rural Tourism Travel Meet 2017 at Bolgatty Palace Convention Centre here the other day. “Such meets will go a long way in bettering the quality of these accommodation units,” he said.

The event organised by the Kerala State Homestays and Tourism Association (Kerala HATS) in association with Kerala Tourism showcased Kerala’s reputed homestays and rural tourism initiatives. ‘’The tourism sector in India as well as in Kerala has been registering incredible growth over the past few years. The revenue from the tourism sector would form a major share of the country’s GDP in the coming years,” the Minister said in his speech.

“As per the study conducted by a foreign agency, the tourism sector in India will contribute $4.5 trillion to the nation’s GDP by 2024. As far as Kerala is concerned, tourism is one of the major revenue generating sectors. Around 10.3 lakh foreign tourists and 1.32 crore domestic tourists arrived in Kerala in 2016, and the industry generated a total revenue of Rs. 38,000 crore,” Kadakampally Surendran said. He added that the technological advancement has brought about major changes in the tourism industry. “If homestays can tap the opportunity, it can take the tourism industry to the next level. Though the tourism industry in the State has been facing several issues, we hope to overcome the challenges easily,” he said.

Over 100 homestays and other accommodation units have put up stalls at the B2B meet in which delegates from other states and countries like Japan, Malaysia etc. participated. “The homestay B2B meet was a grand success. It attracted more participants than we expected. This is the only platform in Kerala where homestay entrepreneurs can showcase their property and services before a wide range of customers, travel agents and other stakeholders in the tourism industry. As many as 800 homestay operators had participated in the event. This year we have delegates from Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Thailand,” said M P Sivadathan, Director, Kerala HATS.

“Homestays would have a major role to play after the forthcoming re-branding of Kerala Tourism with focus on activity-oriented tourism in the State,” opined P Bala Kiran IAS, Director, Kerala Tourism. “In 2001, Kerala was the first State in the country to adopt homestay system. Over the years, homestays have become a crucial factor in the growth of tourism in the State. Unlike in Goa, homestays in Kerala help tourists experience the State’s culture and traditions. The tourism sector in India was facing stiff competition from countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand. However, the governments have been extending all support to the tourism industry to compete with its counterparts in other countries,” said K V Thomas MP, Founder-chairman, Kerala HATS.

There are more than 850 approved homestays in Kerala which together offers more than 3,500 rooms of international standards. Homestays are classified in three categories – diamond, gold and silver – on the basis of the amenities offered. K V Thomas MP presided over the inaugural event. MLAs Hibi Eden, S Sarma, John Fernandez and Soumini Jain, Mayor, Kochi were present on the inaugural session. Noor Azman Bin Samsudin, Tourism Director of Malaysia and Tetsuya Nakatani, tourism expert from Japan, were also present at the inaugural function. As part of the meet, discussions on various topics related to homestay tourism were held on September 16 and 17.