Kochi: Observing that frequent strikes were a huge setback for the revenue-generating tourism industry in the state, the Kerala Travel Mart Society (KTM) has appealed to the political parties and other organisations to exempt tourists and tourism-related activities from shutdowns and avoid inconvenience to travellers.
Baby Mathew, KTM president, said that hartals cause huge inconvenience to the people visiting Kerala as they would be stranded at airports and railway stations. “Kerala is relying heavily on tourism and this money-spinning sector will be severely affected by hartals. In fact, strikes are the biggest unwelcome gesture to the tourists visiting the State. Forcibly shutting down all activities is not desirable for any region. It will convey a wrong message to the outside world and weaken the tourism industry in Kerala,” he said.
If this trend continues, it will deter investors and industrialists from setting up enterprises in Kerala as there is no guarantee for the safety of their workers and assets. Also, tourists would not prefer to visit the state again after they are stranded on a hartal day without food and transport, the KTM President observed.
“It took 25-30 years of hard work for the tourism industry to achieve the current level of growth in the State and frequent strikes will affect its long-term prospects. Hartals will send a wrong signal to both domestic and international tourists,” he said.
In 2017, Kerala recorded the highest number of tourist arrivals in the past nine years, with a 10.94 per cent rise as compared to the figures in the preceding year. The year 2017 also recorded the highest number of domestic tourist arrivals in the past nine-year period, with the number posting an 11.39-per cent rise over the figures of 2016.
Mathew said frequent strikes were adversely affecting the tourism industry, and urged all political parties to make collective efforts to exclude tourists and tourism-related activities for ensuring unhindered growth of the sector.