Arab tourists expected to flock to Kerala, once pandemic ends

Jihad Husain Gateway Malabar Holidays P Ltd

The world is grieving. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a stir all over the globe creating a sense of fear, restlessness and uncertainty. Whereas, this small state in India – Kerala – located down on the southern tip, has caught global attention with its efforts to tackle the pandemic spread.

The care and foresight of the Kerala government and the higher officials from the health department helped to identify, analyse and curb down the chaos in the initial stages itself. Kerala’s efficiency in treating foreigners from other countries has been applauded by the world countries.

Even at the peak of India’s lockdown period, citizens from other countries who came to Kerala for tourism and medical treatments were quarantined with utmost care before sending them back successfully to their home countries by air. The Kerala government and the tourism department ensured maximum comfort towards their accommodation, food and other essential needs.

A rapid task force was formed by the state tourism secretary to facilitate the comfort accommodation and return travel of tourists stranded in various locations. The government and Tourism Department made this possible without any complaints from tourists by coordinating the task force, district tourism offices and all other bodies such as Police, Immigration, Airports, various Airlines, Hotels, Embassies and Consulates. The tourism secretary, director and top officials worked with no rest whatsoever to make this easy for the Government.

In addition to hundreds of US & UK citizens, 136 of Saudi nationals were also brought to their houses via Calicut International Airport. The citizens of UAE and Oman were sent via the Cochin International Airport and Kuwait nationals via Trivandrum and Chennai International Airports. This success story has been hailed by the news channels across the globe and now being circulated as the ‘Kerala Model’ in social media platforms and tourist forums in Middle East.

Believe it or not, even after getting a chance to go back to their homes, nearly 50 Arab nationals are still staying in various Kerala Ayurvedic centres as they do not wish to leave the state because they feel they’re safe.

This information must be translated and shared via social media platforms. Operators across the market would have to take this initiative as this would help the tourism sector to revive quickly once the pandemic fades.

The summer holidays in the Gulf region will get extended till September this year. The travel savvy Arab nationals are suffering from distress and are now eagerly waiting to travel with their family for a good time. Emirates Airline has already planned to start its services by mid-May 2020, whereas Saudi Airlines may commence by June 1.

With extensive finance packages introduced by the respective Ministries, the recession caused by COVID-19 is not expected to affect the citizens of Gulf nations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait are way ahead in introducing and successfully implementing such packages.

UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have so far collected debentures worth 14 billion US Dollars which will ensure economic stability, even in the worst-case scenarios of fluctuations in oil prices.

In addition to the 120 billion Saudi riyal stimulus package, the Government of Saudi has offered 60% of the wages for people in the private sector which has been severely affected by the pandemic crisis. The ministries of Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have also announced similar financial packages.

With all the above facts as information, it is understood that outbound tourism from Arab nations is going to flourish once again. By mid of August, the circumstances are expected to get back to normal terms and the Arabs can start flowing to God’s Own Country as always, for medical treatments and tourism.

Let’s pray and work together for a better future and a healthy society.

(the author is Mr Jihad Husain, Managing Director of Gateway Malabar Holidays P Ltd.)