The United Kingdom, the biggest source market for Kerala Tourism over the years, has become the first country to touch the two lakh footfall of foreign tourists to God’s Own Country in 2018 calendar year.
Cornering 18.36% share of the foreign tourist arrivals to the State last year, the U. K. achieved the feat as 2,01,258 tourists arrived during January-December 2018 period despite the travel advisories following the Nipah virus scare and devastating floods compared to 1,80,975 footfall in 2017.
The United States of America, which has reached the second spot in foreign tourist arrivals with 96,522 footfall last year, has only 8.8% share as per the official tourist statistics released by Kerala Tourism.
Foreign tourists from over 250 countries around the world had visited the State and forex earned from the tourism sector was ₹8,764.46 crore. The forex earnings increased by ₹372.35 crore and the growth rate was 4.44%.
The increase in foreign footfall was only 4,537, registering growth of 0.42% against the anticipated rate of 12 to 15%. France is in the third position with 87,200 footfall, followed by Germany (66,194) and Saudi Arabia with 46,089 arrivals in the fifth position.
Oman with 43,627 footfall, Maldives (42,237), Australia (38,617), Russia (32,366) and Malaysia (29,825) are in the list of top 10 countries from where foreign tourists arrived in the State.
Surprisingly, the number of Arab tourists from Saudi Arabia, an emerging source market for Kerala Tourism in the last couple of years, has dipped from 61,052 in 2017 to 46,089 in 2018. Oman also registered a dip in arrivals with footfall going down from 53,385 in 2017 to 43,627 last year.
Australia (38,617) and Malaysia (29,825) are the two other countries in the top 10 list that has registered a dip in tourist arrivals last year. The general trend of negative growth is reflected in almost all Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Major European countries like U. K., France, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Italy have registered growth with footfall going up last year. Small European countries like Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, and Denmark lead the countries with negative growth.
Ernakulam tops the districts with 4.88 lakh foreign tourist footfalls last year, followed by Thiruvananthapuram with 3.43 lakh, Alappuzha (95,000), Idukki (45,000) and Kottayam with 43,000 arrivals in fifth position. Palakkad and Pathanamthitta were the districts least preferred by foreign tourists.