Kochi, May5: Kerala Travel Mart (KTM)Society has called for an all-party meeting to discuss protecting the tourism sector, a key revenue and employment generator for state, from the impact of frequent hartalsthat inconvenience tourists and undermine tourism promotion efforts.
“There were views from different quarters that hartals adversely affect the tourism sector and that public opinion should be mobilized to overcome this situation. It is a welcome sign,” said Shri Baby Mathew, KTM President.
He requested political parties and organisations to take the initiative to form consensus on this issue. “Apart from excluding tourism sector from hartals, the government should give priority to protect the tourists and institutions in this sector during hartal days,” said Shri Baby.
The KTM Society is a non-profit organization that includes multiple industry stakeholders working together to promote tourism in Kerala and strengthen the tourism economy.
KTM has also welcomed Chief Minister Shri. PinarayiVijayan’scall to treat tourism as anessential service like hospital, newspaper and milk delivery, and similarly exempt from the purview of the hartal shutdowns.
Union Minister of State for Tourism ShriAlphonsKannanthanam had also voiced his support for such a move, as did CPM State Secretary ShriKodiyeriBalakrishnan and KPCC President ShriM.M. Hassan.
ShriJose Pradeep, Secretary, KTMnoted that the statements of the Chief Minister and of the various party leaders were highly encouraging for the possibility of a consensus opinion to form regarding the exclusion.
Shri. Baby Mathew elaborated on the extent of damage the industry and the economy suffer because of the shutdowns. “Tourism sector contributes crores of rupees to the state’s economy and employs tens of thousands of people. Hartalsleave visitors to Kerala in a lurch and shut down services, gravely affecting the sector and consequently our economic progress. We are very happy to see the Chief Minister is aware of, and understands the situation and we fully back his suggestion.”
“Flash hartals” that catch tourists unawares and threaten their freedom of movement are also on the rise in Kerala, he noted. “While we promote our state as God’s Own Country overseas, it greatly damages our efforts when we cannot even ensure basic freedom of movement to travellers within our state,” he said. “At a time when other states in India and neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka are campaigning aggressively to attract tourists, alienating travellers would have grave long-term repercussions on both our economy and our status as a preferred global tourism destination.”
“If this situation prevails here, entrepreneurs and investors will hesitate to start new ventures in Kerala. Tourists, who are stranded due to lack of food and transportation facilities during hartal days will not show any interest in visiting Kerala again,” ShriBaby said.
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