Raj Kalesh in conversation with PA Mohammed Riyas | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Thiruvananthapuram: Minister of Kerala Public Works Department (PWD) PA Mohammed Riyas on Thursday said that the tourism sector in Kerala is growing and the state has achieved an all-time record of 1.5 crore domestic tourist arrivals in 2022.
In conversation with magician and television host Raj Kalesh at the fourth edition of the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL 2023), Riyas said, "When the second Pinarayi Vijayan government came into power in May 2021, the state’s tourism sector was inside a ventilator. Now, Kerala has been ranked 13th in a list of 52 places to visit picked by the New York Times and appreciated for its responsible tourism endeavours.”
Speaking about the government’s upcoming tourism initiatives, the minister said that the current focus is on promoting cultural and food tourism. “Intense efforts are being taken up to develop food streets in various cities. Floating restaurants are also in the pipeline,” he said.
“The Tourism Department is planning to take up initiatives to promote nightlife in cities. The illuminations which were set up in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode amid Christmas celebrations and the State School Kalolsavam were indeed a first step taken in this regard and they received wide positive responses,” he added.
When asked about the condition of roads in the state, Riyas asserted the need for a design policy in the country. “For instance, if a specific design policy is implemented for flyovers, then the space below the structures can be converted into comfort stations, elderly parks or even food streets, as seen in foreign countries,” he said.
The minister also highlighted the novel initiatives of the regime to popularise Kerala tourism, including the organisation of beach festivals in 10 locations across the state.
The one-hour conversation ended with a question and answer session, which witnessed innovative suggestions from the audience to strengthen the state’s tourism sector.