After COVID threat, Kerala Tourism changing tack

Rethink on promoting the State in China

Kerala Tourism is gearing up to change the marketing strategy of the State’s tourism industry that has been rattled by the reporting of three COVID-19 cases in students who have returned from Wuhan in China. The move comes in the wake of massive cancellations in hotels and resorts across the State during February and March, following the reporting of COVID-19 cases and the declaration of the disease as ‘State disaster’ by the government.

Though no fresh cases has been reported and the government has withdrawn the State disaster status, the damage to the destination and the loss to the industry due to the cancellations are much more when compared to that caused by the Nipah virus.

The cancellations have affected all classes of hotels and resorts in the public and private sector. The declaration of State disaster has come in for flak from the captains of the industry. The marketing plan had to be reworked to gain the confidence of tourists and to convince them that the destination is safe.

Special emphasis on China, Europe, United States, and Australia and promotion of the destination using social media are the key elements in the ₹27-crore campaign of the Kerala Tourism rolled out internationally to woo tourists recently.

‘China Ready’

Kerala Tourism will now have to rethink on promoting the State in China, as Kerala is the first Indian State to be partnered for the China Ready programme. The State joined the initiative to attract tourists from China that sends 150 million tourists across the world annually. Of the 2 lakh-odd Chinese tourists visiting India annually, around 9,000 visit Kerala.

China is identified as a major market for Kerala Tourism this year. For wooing Chinese tourists, who are considered high spenders, it has been decided to create a website in the domain. China is rated one of the fastest growing markets of outbound tourists.

Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the marketing strategy would be reworked in view of the fallout of COVID-19 cases. “Like in the case of Nipah virus and the floods that ravaged the State in 2018 and 2019, the Tourism Advisory Council will take a call on the strategy to be adopted to overcome the dip,” he said.

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