News story published in The Times of India based on the research paper ‘A Chinese Solution to Kerala’s Tourism Sector Woes’ by Muraleedharan Nair, Senior Fellow, CPPR

Providing a ‘A Chinese Solution to Kerala’s Tourism Sector Woes’, a research paper titled so by a retired Indian diplomat, who served in Indian missions in China for more than a decade, has listed out the measures to be initiated by the state government for luring travellers from China, which is now home to largest number of outbound tourists in the world.

The research paper by Muraleedharan Nair, currently a senior fellow with Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a Kochi-based independent thinktank, has already been sent to the state tourism minister and the secretary for the government’s perusal. However, the CPPR is yet to receive any response, despite Kerala Tourism’s proclaimed policy of shifting focus to potential source markets like China over the past several years.

Citing studies by the China Tourism Academy (CTA), the research paper points out that around 12.2 crore Chinese tourists visited various foreign destinations and spent USD 110 billion overseas in 2016, an average of $ 900 in each trip. These figures rose to about 12.9 crore travellers and $115.3 billion in 2017.

“However, only about 2.5 lakh of them opted India as their destination, while only a meagre 6,000 of them chose to visit Kerala in 2016,” the paper said. As per the figures of state tourism department, the state received 7,113 Chinese tourists in 2017 and 9,630 in 2018 registering a growth of 35.39%.

“If Kerala is able to attract one out of every 100 Chinese who go on foreign tours, the state’s intake of foreign tourists would double, thus resolving poor footfall of foreign tourists in the short and medium term. This can give a much-needed impetus to the state’s economy which is reeling under the impact of the recent floods,” Nair said.

During a visit to Kerala last year, United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) Asia/Pacific regional director Xu Jing too had pointed out that the future of Kerala tourism depended on how successfully the state can penetrate into source markets like China, Japan and Korea.

“But, are we ready to receive them,” Nair asks in his paper, before giving a detailed blueprint on how Kerala can gear up to welcome the Chinese, on what the Chinese would be looking for abroad and the opportunities for Kerala. From increasing air connectivity to providing clean toilets, the paper lists out various measures to be initiated by the governments.