THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Union minister of state for tourism Alphons Kannanthanam on Monday said that the Centre has sanctioned Rs 85.23 crore for development of spiritual circuits covering 133 destinations across 14 districts.
At a press conference here, the union minster said the Spiritual Circuits have been planned under the Swadeshi Darshan Scheme. The destinations have been selected keeping in view the inherent historic, cultural and religious significance of the places. The major infrastructure projects being sanctioned as part of the circuit are annadana mandapam, community hall, multipurpose hall, toilets, cafeteria, parking space, landscaping, pathways, illumination of the campus, signage and dustbins.
Referring to the progress made in the tourism sector, the minister said the survey conducted by World Travel and Tourism Council had placed India third after China and the US. The rankings are done on the basis of four criteria tourism sector's contribution to GDP, investment in the tourism sector, revenue generated through foreign tourists and domestic tourists.
Alphons said last year tourism sector had generated Rs 16.5 lakh crore and 87 per cent of this was from the domestic tourists and the remaining from foreign tourists. The revenue generated through foreign tourists was Rs 1.77 lakh crore. The tourist sector made 12.36 per cent in employment generation and 5.7 per cent to the GDP.
He said of the Rs 99.99 crore sanctioned for Sabarimala- Erumeli, Pampa and Sannidhanam, the Centre had released first installment of Rs 20 crore . However, the state government was yet to submit the utilisation of the first installment. As per the Central Government norms the second installment can be released only after receiving the utilisation certificate.
The minister said Kerala needed to do more to tap its full potential in tourism sector. At the moment Kerala stood 8th in terms of attracting foreign tourists and 16th in case of domestic arrivals. The state needs to improve its position.
When asked whether he would contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from the state, the union minster said such matters are to be discussed in party domain. As of now his first priority is to implement the two mega schemes of Central government -swadeshi darshan and prashad in an effective manner....