Kerala, nestled in the southern part of India, has been making waves on the international tourism scene. The New York Times recently ranked it 13th among the top 52 must-visit places in the world for the year 2023. Beyond its natural beauty and cultural heritage, Kerala’s tourism sector is taking deliberate steps to engage all sections of society in the promotion of tourism, setting an example for responsible and inclusive tourism development.
A Commitment to Responsible Tourism
In 2017-18, Kerala introduced the Responsible Tourism Mission, marking a significant stride towards sustainable tourism development. This initiative carries a profound commitment to preserving the region’s rich art and cultural heritage, all while ensuring minimal impact on the local community’s way of life and the environment. The Responsible Tourism Mission serves as a blueprint for sustainable tourism practices worldwide.
Kerala’s tourism industry has been a robust contributor to the state’s economy for decades, with a staggering ₹12,285.91 crore in revenue generated in 2021 alone. This sector isn’t just about leisure; it fuels social enterprises, creates employment opportunities, fosters cultural exchanges, and drives infrastructure development—an essential element in post-Covid economic recovery. The numbers speak for themselves: 2023 saw a remarkable influx of 1,33,80,000 domestic tourists from January to September, surpassing the 2021 count of 60,000 foreign tourists.
Kerala’s tourism sector’s revenue surged by 8.37 percent in 2021, reaching ₹12,285.91 crore. This included ₹461.50 crore in foreign exchange earnings and ₹9,103.93 crore from domestic tourism. Comparatively, 2020 saw ₹2,799.85 crore in foreign exchange earnings and ₹6,025.68 crore from domestic tourism. These figures underscore not only recovery but also the sector’s resilient growth.
As of June 30, 2022, Kerala boasts a total of 1,01,719 rooms across 8,280 tourist accommodations, ensuring that visitors can enjoy comfortable stays while exploring the state’s diverse offerings.
Kerala’s global appeal was reaffirmed by The New York Times’ ranking, which highlighted not only the state but also renowned destinations such as Kumarakam, Maravanthuruth, and Vaikom.
Awards and Accolades
Kerala Tourism has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the 2022 World Travel Mart (WTM) Award for its water conservation efforts, recognition as India’s best ‘Wedding Destination’ by readers of “Travel Plus Leisure” magazine, and the 38th Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) 2022 Award for its Print Marketing Campaign. In September 2022, India Tourism honored Kerala with four national awards, including the prestigious Hall of Fame recognition for holistic development in the tourism sector.
The Department of Tourism has undertaken a range of projects aimed at establishing Kerala as a premier global tourist destination. These initiatives encompass water conservation efforts, agritourism networks to showcase agricultural culture, women-friendly tourism, the Kochi Muziris Biennale, destination challenges, caravan tourism, cinema tourism, adventure tourism, and positioning Kerala as a premier wedding destination.
Kerala’s tourism success story serves as an inspiration, demonstrating how responsible tourism practices can contribute to economic growth, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation. As it continues to garner accolades and recognition, Kerala’s commitment to sustainable and inclusive tourism is a model for the world to follow.