Kerala tourism is expecting a 30-40% jump in arrivals from tourists from Saudi Arabia this year, after India’s foreign ministry decided to extend e-visa facilities to Saudi nationals.
In an exclusive interview with Arabian Business, P Bala Kiran, director, Kerala Tourism, said the state tourism department will also launch a major brand campaign in select countries in the Gulf region such as the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in May-June.
The easing of visa processing for Saudi nationals, coupled with the proposed brand campaign is expected to result in a major jump in tourist arrivals from the Gulf region, traditionally one of the big tourist groups to Kerala, he said.
The decision on relaxing the biometric visa system for Saudi tourists was taken during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Delhi last week.
After England and the US, Saudi Arabia is among the leading countries in terms of tourist arrivals to Kerala.
“The new brand campaign by Kerala tourism, christened as Human by Nature, showcasing the state’s signature assets and celebrating its people as heroes, will be unveiled in select GCC countries through a major marketing blitzkrieg involving road shows, promotional films in cinemas, radio, print and bill board advertisements,” added Bala Kiran.
“We have earmarked a significant budget for our proposed campaign programme in Gulf countries,” he said, without divulging the figures.
Kerala Tourism’s plans to launch a new global brand campaign comes in the wake of a significant fall in tourist arrivals in the state in the second half of 2018, adversely affected by a devastating flood and repeated strikes called by some of the political parties.
House boats rides in the backwaters and Ayurveda-based medical tourism are major attractions in Kerala for tourists from Gulf countries.
Bala Kiran said besides launching its new brand campaign, Kerala Tourism has also started work on developing new tourism infrastructure projects in various tourist locations across the state to further strengthen the tourism landscape of Kerala.
These include heritage projects in Alleppey and Talassery (Kannur) and development projects in the Malabar region in north Kerala.
This edited article first appeared in Arabian Business.