Amid Covid surge, Kerala decides to open tourist spots

State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran told the media that tourist centres would be opened in a two-phased manner, ensuring strict compliance of Covid-19 guidelines.

Despite a surge in Covid-19 cases in the state, the Kerala government has decided to open up hill destinations, adventure tourism centres and backwaters for tourists from October 12. Popular beach destinations would be open for visitors from next month onwards.

State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran told the media that tourist centres would be opened in a two-phased manner, ensuring strict compliance of Covid-19 guidelines. “The decision was taken considering the demand from the tourism industry and lakhs of people who depend upon the sector for their survival. For the last six months, the state tourism sector has been facing a severe crisis. As Kerala is effectively managing the pandemic, I hope domestic tourists would be willing to visit the state,’’ he said.

The minister said the decision was taken as tourism activities were not marked as prohibited activities in the latest unlock guidelines. “Several other states have already opened their tourism sectors despite the pandemic. Considering the grim situation in Kerala and its high population density, we have decided to give relaxations to the tourism sector in a phased manner,” he said.

According to the order, the norm that no quarantine is required for stay up to seven days would be applicable to inter-state tourists also. Earlier, business travels for short stay were exempted from the mandatory quarantine period. Inter-state tourists will have to register with the state covid jagratha portal. If they want to travel in Kerala for more than seven days, they should undergo Covid-19 test at their own cost or carry a no-Covid-19 certificate. Tourists have been advised to maintain Covid-19 protocols, including social distancing and use of sanitizer. If any symptoms develop, they have to seek medical advice, says the order.

Guidelines about the protocol have been issued to stakeholders in the industry.

The tourism industry accounts for 7 per cent of Kerala’s GDP and employs 15 lakh people. Over the past few days, Kerala has been reporting a high number of Covid-19 cases. On Saturday, when Maharashtra reported 11,416 new cases, Kerala had the highest-ever daily figure of 11,755. With 96,316 people under treatment, Kerala has the largest active caseload in the country after Maharashtra and Karnataka.

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