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Thursday, Jun 06, 2002

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Kerala: No fall in tourist arrivals

Our Bureau

KOCHI, June 5

DESPITE the tensions on the Indo-Pak border and warnings from some embassies, tourist arrivals into Kerala continue unabated.

``We have had a very good summer tourist season, much better than those of the last two years,'' Mr George Dominic, Executive Director of the Casino group of hotels, said.

The response from the Taj group of hotels was no different; they have also reported an extremely good domestic tourist season.

But Mr George said that this was the season of the domestic tourists and foreign visitors had always been few and far in between during these months.

Even on this count this year was no exception; there were hardly any reservations in the Casino properties by foreign visitors during June and July.

The period from the middle of June is the time when the hospitality industry in Kerala rolls up the curtains and pursues annual maintenance chores.

Despite the preliminary fears, the summer season has elicited a major response from domestic travellers.

The flow of visitors from the riot-ravaged Gujarat has been more than usual, and is expected to continue until the middle of this month, when the schools in Mumbai and Western India reopen, industry sources said.

Despite the media reports, Mr George was unsure as to how much the tense situation on the border would affect the season.

"With the mercury in North India shooting up, this is the leanest period for foreign tourist traffic. The impact might be for the future and need not be for the current period."

The foreign tourist season is expected to pick up from the end of July onwards.

This is the time when some visitors from Europe, mainly Italy and Spain, begin to arrive at the Kerala coast.

The reservations for the period are already on and there need be no diversion of tourist traffic from the Kerala coast this year either.

``Islamabad is as far from Kerala as Istanbul is from Paris and one does not expect any shortfall in foreign tourist arrivals this year,'' Mr George said.

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