Seeking to revive the COVID pandemic battered tourism sector in Kerala, the state government has rolled out an efficient and meticulous Bio-bubble system to insulate tourists from the viral infection to the maximum.
What is a bio-bubble?
Bio-bubbles are sanitized, safe and secure environments, where people within them, likely to come into contact with tourists, are vaccinated, a Kerala Tourism department release said here on Tuesday.
"The protective ring of the Bio-bubble will see that tourists landing in any airport in Kerala meet only vaccinated ground staff. 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 home stays they stay during their holiday, where the staff are vaccinated", it said.
Tourists need to take first dose of vaccine
All tourism centres in Kerala re-opened on Monday, and will be accessible to tourists who have received at least the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, or possessing a negative RTPCR test certificate taken before 72 hours. This applies to hotels, resorts, home stays, houseboats and open spaces of tourist interest.
Kerala had launched a highly successful, targeted campaign to vaccinate the entire population in tourism destinations, with Vythiri in upland Wayanad being declared as the first destination to achieve the status. The drive aims to inoculate entire stakeholders in the tourism industry and the campaign will soon be completed in all tourist destinations across the state.
The bio-bubble model forms part of a set of well-planned and time-bound schemes initiated by the Kerala Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas for an early revival of the pandemic-ravaged travel and hospitality sector by turning all tourism spots cent per cent safe zones, the release said.
Riyas said safety of guests is ''non-negotiable'' as far as Kerala Tourism is concerned. The minister said 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 revival of tourism, which has been clobbered by the pandemic. It was with this larger perspective that we successfully carried out the vaccination campaign covering the entire population in Vythiri. This initiative will tell the world that Kerala is a place where you can holiday safely," he said.
This programme will enable the vacationers to move freely within safe zones without any anxiety, from the very moment they reach the state. They can engage in all leisure activities such as walking, stretching and basking on beaches, swimming in placid waters, trekking up forest-trails, cruising on the back waters or sauntering through villages, with full confidence.
Venu V, Additional Chief Secretary of Tourism, said Kerala Tourism has outlived grim 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. Agreed, the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented in its sweep and dimension. The best way to come out of this pandemic induced setback is to set the highest premium on the safety of tourists", Venu said.
State Tourism Director V R Krishna Teja said 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.
"Going by our natural assets and advanced social milieu, Kerala has immense scope to tap the in-coming rush to unpolluted and less crowded spaces. Creation of a safety shield like the bio-bubble is a vital component in keeping the state tourism sector ready", Teja said.
With the Kerala government setting its goal of inoculating the whole eligible population at the shortest possible span, the COVID-19 vaccination programme is progressing at a brisk pace throughout the state. So far, over 43.37 per cent of the state's total population have been administered the first dose of vaccine and 18.08 per cent with both the doses.