In a bid to enhance the safety and security of tourists in Kerala, the state government has formed a Kerala Tourism Regulatory Authority (KTRA) and has set a target of 100 per cent increase in arrival of foreign tourists and 50 per cent domestic tourists in the next five years, an official said on Friday.
"To ensure the accomplishment of a target of 100 per cent increase in arrival of foreign tourists and 50 per cent in domestic tourists in five years, a tourism regulatory authority has been formed. This would help put a stop to any unhealthy practices and guarantee better intervention of the Tourism Department through scrutiny and licensing system," Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said in a statement.
"The body will be part of the tourism policy," Jafar Malik, Additional Director, Department of Kerala Tourism, told reporters on the sidelines of a buyer-seller meet.
"Whenever a tourist visits a place, the primary concern is whether I will be safe and secure there. Kerala being an educated society and having a high literacy rate is already peaceful. There are no law and order issues normally. But when a tourist visits, he will expect more than that," Malik said.
"There are lot of single women, international tourists roaming in the streets and visiting places without any kind of fear. That kind of situation has come only because of these kind of initiatives," he added.
Malik said the state government wanted a department to solely focus on safety and security, as well as to ensure that hotels have proper licences.
"The government wanted a department which can solely focus on safety and security of tourists. So, this regulatory committee is not only for safety and security of tourists, but it will also keep a check on whether hotels have proper licences."
Last year, around 10-12 lakh foreign tourists visited Kerala, Malik said. "We aim to double that footfall in the next five years."
"Fifty per cent increase (of domestic tourists) is not a great number in tourism sector. But that is what we have set for next few years... Even if we are not ... promoting Kerala tourism, people will come to Kerala by word of mouth. In order to enhance that, we are doing all of this," Malik stated.
"We also want tourists from West Bengal to visit Kerala in larger numbers," he added.