After remaining shut for over six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerala on Monday opened up various tourist destinations, adventure parks, houseboats and boating services, except beaches, in a phased manner, for domestic visitors. The state government has decided to reopen the tourism destinations in two phases, subject to the central government guidelines.
Domestic tourists who visit Kerala for short trips (less than seven days)have been exempted from quarantine, but they should register in the COVID Jagratha portal. If for any reason the tourists plan to extend their stay for more than seven days, they would have to undergo test from ICMR/State Government approved laboratories and follow all the COVID-19 health advisories.
They must remain in paid quarantine till the test results are out, tourism department sources said. Those visiting Kerala for more than seven days have to carry COVID-negative certificate (RTPCR test/Antigen test within 48 hours prior to arrival from ICMR/State government approved labs) or undergo Rapid Antigen test/RTPCR test on arrival.
Those who do not carry this certificate or undergo the tests on arrival will have to undergo seven days quarantine and can be tested on the seventh day. If they test negative, a further seven day quarantine is optional and not mandatory.
Those who do not get tested after seven days will have to complete 14 days in quarantine. In the first phase, 184 destinations, including the famous Jattayupara here, Konni elephant shelter, adventure parks, water sports, boating, houseboat services, speed boats, Alappuzhaand Kumarakom backwater trips, the Eravikulam park, Munnar and Mattupetty in high range Idukki district, Malampuzha dam and Silent Valley opened for domestic tourists from today.
In the second phase, beach destinations will open from November one. Shanghumukhamand Kovalam beaches in the capital, Fort Kochi beach, Mattancherry, Cherayi and Munambamin Ernakulam, Payyambalam in Kannur and Muzhappilangadand Bekal in Kasaragod will be open for visitors from November 1.
With travel restrictions due to COVID-19 into the seventh month, the tourism industry is passing through an unprecedented crisis with no business and income for the past six months. People dependent on tourism for their livelihood are finding it difficult to make ends meet, the government order issued by Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta stated.
In Phase 1, the destinations having controlled access, House Boats (including other personalised boating) and Adventure Tourism activities can be opened adhering to social distancing , Break the Chain norms as they can be easily implemented in these destinations. Also, hill stations/tourism destinations (without controlled access) can be opened with strict compliance of Standard Operating Procedures, wherein these destinations are not crowded comparatively.
In Phase 2, destinations which have no controlled access such as beaches can be opened from November 1 with strict SOP, the order stated. Health and safety parameters like temperature check, wearing masks, frequent sanitation, social distancing, disinfection, contact less screening of guests, only online booking, health declaration forms and avoidance of high risk activities like swimming pools should be followed.
The tourism sector has been a significant contributor to the state's economy for decades, garnering Rs 45,019 crore in 2019 and providing employment to 1.5 million people directly and indirectly. According to rough estimates, the tourism industry has suffered a loss of Rs 45,000 crore due to COVID-19.