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Ayurveda cuts a healthy deal for Kerala tourism

It’s the scenic beauty that has always attracted foreign tourist to Kerala. But now, Ayurveda is fast emerging as the USP of the state. Over 40 per cent of the foreign tourists visited Kerala this year to get a healing touch of Ayurveda.

K. C. Venugopal, tourism minister, told “In 2004-05, almost 58 lakh domestic tourists and 3.43 lakh foreign tourists visited the state. Of this, the majority is interested in sightseeing and enjoying foods. But the remaining is evincing great interest in health tourism, which is fast catching on.”

In 2004, tourism generated Rs 6,800 crore, of which Rs 1,200 crore came in by way of foreign exchange besides generating 8 lakh jobs. According to industry sources, health tourism brought in Rs 1,500 crore to the state’s coffer.

“Ayurveda has given a big boost to the state’s tourism industry and has put Kerala on the world tourism map. Of the foreign tourist, who visited the state this year, over 40 per cent had combined ayurveda in their package,” Rajendra Prasad, president of Thambu, a tribal organisation, said.

According to a forecast by the World Travel and Tourism Council and Oxford Economic Forecasting Group, the state will witness a three-fold growth in employment in the travel and tourism sector from the present 6,93,000 to 2 million by 2012.

“Apart from Ayurveda, the state is blessed with good super-specialty hospitals, which when compared to other hospitals in the world are affordable and offer better services,” sources said.

To tap Kerala’s potential in health tourism, the state government has drawn up plans to network major hospitals and strictly enforce quality standards for ayurvedic resorts. A committee comprising ayurveda experts, tour operators and officials has been formed to assess the quality of ayurveda resorts and treatment centres in the state. The licence for these facilities is issued only after a thorough assessment of quality.

( www.business-standard.com)

 
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