Thiruvananthapuram– Kerala figures at number eight in the “12 destinations to watch in 2017” by Britain’s largest and prominent travel and tours operators association.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has ranked Kerala higher than premier destinations like the US, Sardinia (island of Italy), South Africa and Vietnam. The list also features Andalucia (Spain), the Azores islands (of Portugal), Bermuda, Chile, Croatia and Denmark.

The rankings consist of locations that are expected to capture traveller’s imaginations over the next year.

“This latest recognition of Kerala’s stature as a must visit destination is a matter of pride for us and bodes well for the year ahead,” said state Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran.

Among the not to miss experiences of the state mentioned in the report is a journey through the placid backwaters in the traditional houseboat, the life of the local people, spice plantations and forests.

There is also a special mention of the rejuvenating touch of Kerala’s traditional ayurveda therapies.

“Making the list signifies an excellent start to the year and will add momentum to our ongoing efforts to promote and showcase Kerala around the world. This is especially important in Britain, which is our primary source market for tourists,” said Principal Secretary, Tourism, V. Venu.

In 2015, Kerala received 1,66,792 tourists from Britain, which accounted for a 17.06 per cent share of the total foreign tourist arrivals to the state.

The predictive ranking by ABTA, whose members reportedly sell 32 billion euros worth of holidays and other travel arrangements every year, suggests the outlook for the state will remain bright.

“Kerala’s prominent ranking in the ABTA list suggests that the trend of higher tourist footfalls from Britain to continue this year,” said Kerala Tourism Director U.V. Jose. (IANS)