Tourism has grown into the state’s most important development tool especially as the most significant creator of livelihood opportunities. Given its reach and capability, tourism will have to play a big role in rebuilding lives and hopes severely damaged by the flood waters.
Kerala has suffered the biggest calamity in our recorded history. The destination has also suffered enormous loss and destruction. But like Cochin International Airport and many hotels, the State’s tourism will all spring back, refreshed and renewed.
However, homes and livelihoods lost and severely damaged will take time and the affected will need a helping hand. Let me say that though a cause of immense hardship and loss, the catastrophe has drawn the world’s attention to this destination. The response of ordinary citizens to catastrophe was nothing short of heroic.
Clinically put even a calamity has its uses and a calamity of this scale has humongous utility. Past the rescue, past the relief camps and past the rehabilitation we will now come to the stage of rebuilding.
Here the scale of the calamity and the need to rebuild put forth the idea “rebuilding a new Kerala”, a realisation that no more can it be “business as usual” in this state.
This gives us the opportunity to build the next version of Destination Kerala. Can we dare aspire for a Version 2? This is our opportunity, and we must harness it to the hilt; an opportunity to aspire for and consciously build the next version of God’s Own Country; an opportunity to lift up the destination to another orbit.
For this we have the expectation, determination and goodwill of the people and the government in the State, the nation and across the globe.
The dramatic focus on the State - the destination - enabled by the calamity and subsequent events places Kerala in a position that rarely comes in the history of a nation. We must embark on marketing of the destination, given these extraordinary circumstances and times. This opportunity can enable the big leap.
(The author is the CEO of Kerala-based CGH Earth Group and brand guardian’ of CGH Earth Hotels)