Kerala attracted 2,18,71,641 domestic visitors in the calendar year 2023, registering a 15.92 per cent increase compared to the previous year, Minister for Tourism P A Mohamed Riyas, has said.

In 2022, the state registered 1,88,67,414 domestic tourist footfalls. Significantly, domestic tourist arrivals increased 18.97 per centcompared to the pre-Covid year of 2019, the Minister said.

Ernakulam district witnessed the highest influx of domestic tourists in 2023 at 44,87,930 visitors, followed by Idukki (36,33,584), Thiruvananthapuram (35,89,932), Thrissur (24,78,573), and Wayanad (17,50,267).

The state also witnessed a healthy increase in international tourist arrivals at 6,49,057 visitors in 2023, as compared to 3,45,549 tourists in 2022, indicating a sharp 87.83 per cent growth.

This all-time record in tourist footfalls signified not just a recovery from the devastation wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic, but was also an endorsement of the state’s standing as an all-season experiential tourism hub.

International tourist numbers

As for the number of visitors from abroad, the minister pointed out that despite a significant uptick, it was still 45.45 per cent lower when compared to international tourist arrivals before the onset of the Covid.

“Conflicts in some parts of the world had also affected international tourism. Despite these challenges, there has been good progress in foreign footfalls in Kerala. Adventure tourism events planned for this year will help us regain much of the lost ground. We are also working on plans to attract more tourists to the Malabar region,” the Minister said.

Kerala also made a mark by promoting the state as an all-season experiential tourism hub by adding new destinations, giving greater salience to adventure tourism and bringing in innovative ideas to reinforce the sector, Tourism Director P B Nooh said.

The Minister unveiled logos of the International Paragliding Competition and International Surfing Festival scheduled to be held in Kerala for this month, firming up the state’s standing as a top adventure tourism destination.

The ‘International Paragliding Competition 2024’, the first in a series of four adventure tourism events this year, will be held from March 14 to 17 at Vagamon, Idukki. The International Surfing Festival at Varkala from March 29 to 31 will be the first national surfing championship this year.