A day after the Kerala government declared the novel coronavirus as a "state calamity", Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran today said the epidemic outbreak had begun affecting the tourism sector as hotel bookings have suffered mass cancellations.
After the Nipah virus and deadly floods, the coronavirus outbreak has also adversely impacted the holiday industry as hotel bookings during the February-March months have been cancelled widely across the state, he said in the state Assembly during the question hour.
Three students, including a woman medico, from the state who studied in Wuhan university in China had tested positive for the virus in Thrissur, Alappuzha and Kasaragod districts in the last few days, following which the LDF government declared the epidemic as a "state calamity" on Monday night.
The negative propaganda during the time of Nipah had cost the tourism industry dearly, the minister noted.
"The same thing is happening now as reports of Coronavirus outbreak came up. This time, the impact is more severe... As soon as the reports came, all the hotel bookings for February-March months, which were all filled, have been cancelled," Mr Surendran said.
Urging media to exercise self-restraint during the time of calamities and keep themselves away from fear-mongering, the minister said blowing up issues beyond proportion was largely affecting tourism industry.
"There is no doubt that we should be vigilant. But, there is no need to create scare among public," he added.
A total of 8.19 lakh tourists had visited the southern state, popularly known as the "God's Own Country", in 9 months in 2019, which was 10.96 lakh in 2018, the minister added.
India reported a third novel coronavirus case on Monday with another Keralite student from Wuhan university in China testing positive for the infection.
Hours after the confirmation of the third coronavirus case from the state, where over 2,000 people are under watch at houses and hospitals, Health Minister KK Shailaja said on that the government had decided to declare the epidemic as a "state calamity".
The move was to take all necessary steps to ensure that the outbreak is effectively controlled, she said.