Luxury hotel Kollam, Kerala-1690890310419
The Raviz Ashtamudi, a five-star luxury hotel, on the banks of the Ashtamudi lake in Kollam. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Thiruvananthapuram: After two years of COVID-19 inflicted downturn, Kerala’s tourism sector has bounced back with a new badge of achievement: the state now has the largest number of five-star properties in India.

According to the national database on hotel accommodation units prepared by Maps of India, Kerala now tops the country with 46 five-star hotels, outshining one of India’s leading tourism players, Maharashtra which has 40 five-star hotels.

Industry observers point out that Kerala coming on top in the luxury hotel segment also points to the premium image that the state has carefully nurtured for its tourism industry over the past three decades.

Kerala is now expected to improve on its already established foothold in the high-end tourism market with the largest number of five-star properties.

Public-private initiative

Reacting to the feat, Kerala tourism director PB Nooh said: “Kerala has been a frontrunner in tourism promotion over the last three to four decades. What is to be acknowledged about the latest achievement is that it is a result of joint initiatives by the state government and the private sector. While the government plays a major role in developing infrastructure and amenities, private players have developed new tourism offerings that are attracting tourists from around the world to the state”.

This year, the New York Times had picked Kerala among the ‘52 go to places in 2023’.

The increased number of luxury hotels is also expected to eliminate fears among MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) tourism operators about lack of sufficient accommodation in Kerala for large-scale events.

Rahul Raj, general manager of the Hyatt Regency in the state capital told Gulf News, “The tag of having the highest number of five-star hotels not only puts us on a pedestal projecting Kerala as a sought-after destination for leisure and MICE, but will also significantly help create more opportunities for career development in the hospitality sector”.

COVID-19 dip

Kerala was getting over a million foreign tourists a year just before COVID-19 struck. In 2019, there were 1.19 million international tourists to Kerala. When the pandemic struck the next year, the number dropped by a massive 71 per cent to 340,755 in 2020.

Since then the tourism sector has picked up, with Kerala building on its new paradigm of responsible tourism that aims to preserve the environment and benefit all stakeholders while promoting the tourism sector.

Shruti Shibulal, CEO and director of Tamara Leisure Experiences, one of the recent entrants in Kerala’s tourism sector said, “Being a premier destination for leisure, business and wellness tourism, the expanding hospitality ventures bring significant benefits to both the state’s economy and its people. The accomplishment of having the highest number of five-star hotels will serve as a strong catalyst to actively promote and enhance the hospitality and tourism industry in Kerala.”