Kerala is today the most sought after and most favoured tourism destinations in India. It is sought after for its breath taking natural splendours, the luxurious greenery, bewitching backwaters and innovative tourism products. National Geographic Traveller’ calls it ‘one of the ten paradises of the world’. ‘The New York Times’ calls it ‘where the smart traveler goes’. And ‘the Times of India’ calls it ‘The Winning State’. This is the personality that Kerala has in front of the world community. God’s own country, is just a slogan of the Department of Tourism or the Government of Kerala, but Kerala is truly the ‘God’s own country’. Foreign tourist arrivals to Kerala are showing an increasing trend for the last few years. In 2004, it recorded 17.28% growth over the year 2003. During 2004 the foreign exchange earning from tourism in the state was Rs.1266.77 Crore, which shows an increase of 28.82% compared to 2003.
The total revenue generated from tourism to the State in the year 2004 is worked out as Rs.6829 Crore. According to WTTC report, “Travel and tourism” in Kerala is expected to grow at the rate of 11.4% per annum in real terms between 2004 and 2003. In Kerala, Kochi has a distinct place for its geographical diversity, sparkling backwaters, magnificent beaches and delightful fairs and festivals. Kochi City, the head quarters of Ernakulam district, is the hub of tourist activities in the district and it has a lot of potential to be further developed as a major tourist destination. The backwaters of Kochi are now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Being the commercial and industrial capital of this southernmost state of India, Kochi is home for a variety of modern and traditional activities. Kochi is popularly known as ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ by virtue of its location and the existence of a major harbour. Being a lovely natural harbor, Kochi enjoys a special place in the history of Kerala. It is ideally located for trade and commerce. The foreign tourists arriving in Kerala prefer to spend more time in Kochi, followed by Thiruvananthapuram and Kovalam. Kochi is preferred by tourists mainly from West and East European countries.