Kerala wants to increase its domestic tourist footfall by 50 per cent in five years - from 1.31 crore in 2016 to 2.5 crore.
People, who visit Kerala, usually hit the beaches or head for the hill stations, they are not much aware of the rich heritage of the port towns, a government official of the southern state has said.
The state is now focusing on the development of its heritage sites in Malabar region as tourist hotspots, Jafar Malik, the additional director general of Kerala Tourism Department, explained.
The port of Muziris and the historic towns of Kodungallur, Pattanam and Paravur were once the trade hubs for businessmen arriving from Rome and Greece and other parts of the globe, the official said.
"The remnants of the port and the historic towns in North Kerala have been excavated and restored to a large extent as tourist spots," Malik, who was recently here to promote tourism in his state, said.
Kerala wants to increase its domestic tourist footfall by 50 per cent in five years - from 1.31 crore in 2016 to 2.5 crore, the official said.
Of the 1.31 crore domestic tourists, 1.31 lakh was from Bengal alone, he said.
"We have seen a rise in number of tourists arriving from Bengal in the past few years. The number has drastically increased from 35,000 even a few years ago to 1.3 lakh in 2016," Malik said, adding that Kerala has set a target of 2.5 lakh tourist footfall from this state in the next five years.
The international tourist arrival in Kerala stood at over 10 lakh in 2016 and its tourism department wants the numbers to increase by 100 per cent by 2022, he said.
The development of the new tourist sites will draw more people to the state, he asserted.
The port city that once figured in the spice route of merchants and traders from Persia, Greece and Rome is just over an hour's drive from Kochi in central Kerala, the official said."The Muziris heritage site is spread over a large stretch, encompassing parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts. People from different parts of the country and abroad will be able to soak in the rich culture of the region," Malik added.