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Monday, 12 February, 2018, 09 : 40 AM [IST]

MORPHING INTO GOD’S DIS-OWNED COUNTRY?

For many years now the unique positioning of the out-of-the-box thinking displayed by Kerala’s tourism officials in creating a brand and marketing it well had worked wonders for tourism business there. Those days might soon be history.

Now the chinks in God’s own Country are showing after all these years. It is unclear yet whether it is complacency or merely the result of unfettered tourism business growth, but the sheen might wear off shortly unless a re-jig is initiated soon enough.

Statistics might not totally reveal this underbelly but the rumbling on the ground could be felt as a trip around the state revealed recently. Three things are staring in the face. The growing garbage and litter, the lackadaisical upkeep of properties and tourist sites and sadly, a sense of over confidence at best and lack of constant training of tourism employees. If complaints are met with ‘no one else found fault with this earlier’, it is time to send staff, and possibly the management as well, back to school.

The state of one of the top ten properties listed on tripadvisor for Kovalam left much to be desired. Without taking names, let’s take the example of menu cards stuck with tape, peeling covers, bathrooms with chipped and loose drain covers and safe box with peeling paint and rust showing through it. That is no mark of any starred property that would stand among the top ten. Just to check on facts, on enquiring with other tourists in other places, their ire was quite evident. For one of the top grade tourism states of the country, this should be a clear warning bell.

The piles of garbage lining the highways, plastic and bottles floating on the Vembanad lake especially where tourists are ferried to board the romantic houseboats, paint a disturbing picture.

Statistics of incoming tourists and slow growth of revenue corroborates the slowdown and it’s not just GST as the state government might say.

Europe, so far the major source for tourism business is gradually giving a thumbs down today. Some experts say that foreign tour operators are not able to give any reasons for the dip in interest from European shores for Kerala but the guesses should be as good as any.

The cat is coming out of the bag as the comments section of most hotel booking websites can be scathing about non deliverance of the dreams offered.

‘To whom much is given much is required’ - this, or a similar sounding, Biblical dictum has to be borne in mind while searching the state’s tourism soul. Kerala is India’s pride and almost a destination in itself as compared to the entire country. No flagging of effort should be tolerated here.

This is not to say everything is tumbling downhill. The charm of Kerala persists and even seems to ride over the faults. The moot question causing concern is – ‘but for how long’?

Anurag Yadav
Industry Expert

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

 
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