Thiruvananthapuram: The tourism arena in Kerala will receive added support from the government with the state budget 2018 setting aside close to Rs 381 crore towards development and promotion of the sector. The budgetary provisioning is Rs 36 crore more than the Rs 345 crore that was set aside last year. Presenting the Budget in the Kerala Assembly today, Dr Thomas Isaac, Minister for Finance, said the state government will focus more on conservation and preservation of heritage monuments in the coming financial year.
The Finance Minister set aside Rs 82.50 crore towards marketing of the tourism sector. Lauding Kerala Tourism’s nine international awards last year, Dr Isaac said the government would accord priority to conservation of heritage monuments in the state as part of its plans towards tourism development. An amount to the tune of Rs 40 crore has been set aside in this regard. The Muziris project, which has been progressing at a slow pace, shall be speeded up and will be completed in a period of two years. Plans are also afoot to include destinations such as Thalassery, Ponnani and Beypore on the tourism map.
The government also proposes to bring boat races under the league competitions, and will be supported with an amount of Rs 10 crore. As per Dr Isaac’s proposals for the fiscal, the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC ) would get Rs 7.92 crore, while the Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Ltd will get Rs 1.83 crore. The budget also earmarks an amount of Rs 3.30 crore for the Bekal Resort Development Corporation Ltd.
Dr Thomas Isaac’s budget has also set aside Rs 16 crore towards organising cultural events such as the Kochi Muziris Biennale, Nishagandhi Dance and Music festivals, Onam celebrations, Thrissur Pooram, Theyyam festivals, boat races et al.
An amount of Rs 4.95 crore has been earmarked towards Responsible Tourism initiatives, while development of eco-tourism products would get Rs 4.24 crore. Human Resources Development in Tourism through the prestigious Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies (KITTS) has been assured Rs 4.40 crore, while similar projects under the State Institute of Hospitality Management (SIHM) gets Rs 3.30 crore, and Food Crafts Institute gets Rs 3.85 crore. The budget also proposes Rs 1.10 crore towards studies on the impact of tourism, including collection of tourist statistics. The budget also proposes to earmark an amount of Rs 13.20 crore for DTPCs and DMCs, while modernisation and strengthening of tourism institutions would get Rs 2.20 crore.
The Finance Minister also proposed to set aside Rs 13.75 crore towards infrastructure facilities and matching grants for Central Government-sponsored schemes, while incentives for creation of infrastructure facilities and tourism products in the private structure by way of subsidies would get Rs 1.65 crore. Dr Isaac also proposed setting aside an amount of Rs 132 crore towards upgrade, and creation of infrastructure as well as amenities, and also Rs 37 crore for upgrade and creation of amenities at guest houses.
The budget also proposes Rs 2.75 crore towards infrastructure development of Varkala and formation of a SPV, while development of innovative tourism products would be aided through the provisioning of Rs 2.20 crore.