Thiruvananthapuram: Undaunted by an online campaign urging boycott of Kerala over its recent decision to cull dangerous stray dogs, the government on Friday said doing away with such stray animals would only make the state more 'tourist-friendly'.
"Kerala Tourism has no worries over the online campaign, claimed to be by a group of animal buffs urging boycott of the state," its Secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao said.
An online campaign under the titles '#Boycott Kerala', #Kerala Dog Culling', 'Worldwide Protest Against Mass Killing of Dogs in Kerala', started by some unknown persons, is going viral in the social media.
"Hit Kerala where it hurts - their tourism. Write letters, tweet, share on FB and Instagram. Do whatever it takes to speak up for these poor dogs. We will not stop till Kerala Govt stops this mass slaughter," the campaigners said in the Facebook page of #Boycott Kerala'.
Rao further said that the state registers a steady growth in the annual arrival of both international and domestic holidayers and the Kerala Tourism is now eyeing a 15-17 percent growth in its tourist arrivals during this financial year.
"The government decision is to deal with rabies infected and dangerous stray dogs which is good for tourism industry. We are making the state much more tourist friendly and safer for visitors," Rao told a news agency.
"Around 9.4 lakh foreign tourists visited the state while 1.16 crore domestic holidayers arrived in the 'God's Own Country, in the last fiscal. This year, we expect 15-17 per cent growth', he said.
The government's decision was following wide complaints about the menace of stray dogs.
About 1.17 lakh people, mainly women and children, have suffered dog bites in the state in the last one year.
A five year-old boy playing in front of his house in kottayam district was the latest victim of dog bite.
Though an all-party meeting called by the government decided to go ahead with culling of dangerous and rabid infected stray dogs, there were protests from animal lovers.
Animal lovers have asked people to speak up for what they called 'unimaginable' suffering of these dogs.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor came out against the campaign as he tweeted 'Keralites may not have handled stray dogs well, but that's no reason to hate the state'. The Kerala MP has also shared a petition to stop the campaign.