THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India – With tourist destinations reopening in the southern Indian state, Kerala, after a long haul, the  State Tourism Department  has rolled out a “bio-bubble” model for vacationers. Only Covid-vaccinated staff will handle tourists from the time they arrive at their destination.

The model creates protective layers of mostly inoculated service providers who will receive and host tourists.

“Bio-bubbles” are sanitized, safe and secure environments, and people within them who are likely to come into contact with tourists are vaccinated.

“The protective ring of the bio-bubble will ensure that tourists landing in any airport in Kerala are met with only vaccinated ground staff,” said  PA Mohammed Riyas , Kerala Tourism Minister.

“From the airport, they can drive to their chosen destinations in cabs, provided by accredited tour operators, whose drivers are all vaccinated. The same goes for the hotels, resorts, or homestays they stay during their holiday, where the staff is vaccinated. “

All tourism centers in Kerala reopened on Aug. 9 and will be accessible to tourists who have administered at least the first dose of  the Covid-19 vaccine  or possessing a negative  RTPCR  test certificate taken before 72 hours.

This applies to hotels, resorts, homestays, houseboats, and open spaces of tourist interest.

“Safety of guests is non-negotiable as far as Kerala Tourism is concerned,” said Riyas.

“The Bio-bubble initiative is meant to ensure that the tourists have a risk-free stay in our state. This is a critical factor for the revival of tourism, hit hard by the pandemic. It was with this larger perspective that we successfully carried out the vaccination campaign covering the entire population in Vythiri. “

Venu V, Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism, said that Kerala Tourism has outlived crises like devastating natural calamities like floods and epidemics that battered its infrastructure and economy.

“We have proved to be resilient by bouncing back from each crisis,” he said.

“The best way to come out of this pandemic-induced setback is to set the highest premium on the safety of tourists.”

“The lockdown-weary people from all corners of the world will be treading to safe and healthy places when tourism opens up globally and nationally,” said VR Krishna Teja, Director of Tourism, Kerala.

“Going by our natural assets and advanced social milieu, Kerala has immense scope to tap the incoming rush to unpolluted and less crowded spaces. Creating a safety shield like the bio-bubble is a vital component in keeping the state tourism sector ready.”

So far, over 43.37 percent of the state’s total population have been  administered  the first dose of vaccine and 18.08 percent with both doses.

Growing at a rate of 13.31 percent, the tourism industry in Kerala is a major contributor to the state’s economy. In 2010, Kerala attracted 660,000 foreign tourist arrivals.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Saptak Datta

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