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'International issues may have hit foreign tourist visits to Kerala'

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Coimbatore: Disturbances in some foreign countries could have led to one per cent decline in arrivals of tourists from other nations to Kerala last year as against the average annual growth of seven per cent, a senior official of the state's Tourism Department said here Tuesday.

Kerala witnessed 7.94 lakh foreign and 1.01 crore domestic tourist arrivals in 2012 as compared to 7.33 lakh and 93.88 lakh respectively in 2011, P Muraleedharan, state's Tourist Information Officer, told reporters here.

Foreign exchange earnings had gone up from Rs 4,221.99 crore in 2011 to Rs 4,548 crore in 2012 and total revenue, both direct and indirect from tourism touched Rs 21,125 crore in 2012, compared to Rs 19,037 crore in 2011, he said.

However, there could have been a overall marginal decline in 2013 due to international disturbances, by which less number of foreign tourist were reported.

A correct picture would emerge only after two to three months, Muraleedharan said.

He said government has taken initiatives to enhance the travel experience and add to array of tourist sites, like Seaplane Project in PPP mode, by which the three International Airports -- Kochi,Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, would be linked to major tourist spots -- Kumarokam and Bolgatty, Punnamada and Ashtamudi and Bekal, respectively, he said.

The project was aimed at improving last mile connectivity by air to its destinations across the State. Four major players, including Pawan Hans and Kairali Aviation, would operate their services in another four months, he said.

Another initiative 'Muziri' was to reinstate the historical and cultural significance of the legendary port of Muziris, stretching from municipality of North Paravur in Ernakulam district to Kodungaloor in Thrissur District, he said.

One more initiative in the offing is the Spice Route Revival Project, aimed at reviving and promoting the two millennia-old spice route, which link the South western coast of India up to Europe, with UN World Tourism Organisation, pledging support to the venture, Muraleedharan said.

PTI

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