Travel advisories by US, UK insult to Kerala: Tourism minister

Thiruvananthapuram: Travel advisories issued by the US and the UK asking their citizens travelling Kerala to be vigilant in the backdrop of the violent protests against women’s entry to Sabarimala temple, was an “insult” to the southern state, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said Sunday.

“They have not said don’t go. But said remain vigilant. That itself is insulting,” Surendran told reporters here. It would impact the tourist arrivals to the state, he added. The protests, being spearheaded by the BJP and the RSS, along with right wing outfits, has hit the tourism sector, the minister said.

The advisory issued by the UK has warned its citizens to remain vigilant and avoid large public gathering in the wake of the violent protests in Kerala over the issue of women entering the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.

The Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO), which regularly updates its advice for travel to different parts of the world, had on Friday said that any British citizen planning to travel to Kerala should monitor media reports. According to media reports, the United States has also issued a similar advisory.

Kadakampally Surendran

Kerala has been rocked by violent protests by right wing groups after two women of child bearing age trekked the holy hills and offered prayers at the shrine on 2 January.

Over 3,000 persons have been arrested till Friday night in connection with the violence. Kerala’s 10 per cent of the GDP comes from the tourism sector and the industry is worried that the frequent hartals and protests would severely impact the state which is slowly recovering from the massive devastation caused by the August floods.

The tourism sector has been exempted from 8-9 January all India strike called by the central trade unions.