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Tourism in flood-hit Kerala grinds to a halt

Tourism accounts for 12 percent of the southern Indian state's economy, but flooding has hit the industry hard.

The tourism industry in India's southern Kerala state has been hit hard as the state reels from the worst flooding in over a century that has left more than 300 people dead.

Incessant rain since August 8 caused the worst floods and triggered landslides, with the death toll reaching 445 with the discovery of 28 more bodies on Sunday.

Tourism accounts for 12 percent of Kerala's economy and the flooding that forced tourists to cancel their trips, has brought loss to the hospitality business owners in the state. 

"I think about 75 to 80 percent of cancellations have happened during that period," Ellias Najeeb, president of the Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry, said.

"And all the tourists that were staying in the affected areas have gone back."

The outlook does not look great either. A similar percentage of September bookings have been cancelled. 

The flood damaged roads, rail-lines and airports, making it hard for travelers to reach their destination.

The biggest impact will reportedly be felt from October when the peak tourist season for Kerela begins.

Those in the industry expect a 20 to 25 percent drop for the season as a whole.

However, Kerala's Tourism Minister, Kadakampally Surendran, is confident the visitors will return.

"Our industry is badly affected, it's devasted. But I'm confident we will get our former glory back. It is going to take a lot of work," said Surendran.

The rainfall during the June-September season was recorded as more than 40 percent higher than normal. That forced authorities to release water from dozens of full dams.

But even as the water receded, dozens of people are still missing and around a million are sheltering in thousands of makeshift relief camps, state officials said.

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