Thursday, December 08, 2005

After backwaters and ayurveda, it’s experience tourism in Kerala

Newindpress - Chennai,IndiaKOCHI: As Kerala becomes a hot tourist spot for more travellers from Europe, backwaters and ayurveda may not be the only attractions to lure them. ...

KOCHI: As Kerala becomes a hot tourist spot for more travellers from Europe, backwaters and ayurveda may not be the only attractions to lure them.

The State Tourism Department is planning to promote ‘experience tourism’ which enable the tourists to interact with the locals and enjoy the ambience.

‘‘We have several ideas in mind like rural tourism, farm tourism, culture tourism etc. In the case of farm tourism, the tourists can stay with the farmers,’’ says B Suman, Tourism Director.

The concept brings in additional income for the farmers. The state is targeting high-end tourists with experience tourism. Along with that the Tourism Department is going to unleash a tourism promotional campaign in the US jointly with the Taj and Oberoi groups in March. Unlike Europeans, Kerala has not become must-see place for the Americans. The tourist inflow from the US is still limited.

The tourism season in Kerala is looking quite buoyant this time. Apart from the traditional strongolds of the UK, Germany and France, Kerala is getting lot of enquiries from tourists from Russia and Italy, says Suman.In fact, the Italians are taking a fancy to Kerala among the South Indian states, says E M John, general manager of Iterveda Tours & Services. ‘‘We are bringing around 120 tourists from Italy.

We are also trying to promote the North Kerala in a big way,’’ he says.Another trend observed in the current season is the rise in individual tourists. Says Jose Dominic, managing director of cghearth: ‘‘A visible trend is that of alert independent traveller, who contribute to what is called responsible tourism, particularly in the matter of environment.’’There is less demand for pre-scheduled and tailor-made programmes. Also the tourists seem more oriented towards culture than beaches, perhaps because at the time of the booking around six months ago, tsunami could have been at the back of their minds, he says.

The hotel bookings are better than that of last year when tsunami affected the tourist flow. Overall the tourist arrivals are expected to pick up in the current season. ‘‘Our hotels are all 100 percent booked,’’ says T Damu, vice president (corporate affairs), South, Indian Hotels Company Ltd, owning the Taj Hotels.

Apart from the regular tourists, there is a good demand for rooms from those attending weddings and international conferences. Damu feels Kerala could benefit from encouraging new trends like adventure and culture tourism.


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