With a newly-founded responsible tourism mission and Kumarakom bagging the prestigious Responsible Tourism Award at the World Travel Mart, London, it is no wonder that a new tourism policy was unveiled by Kerala that focuses in-depth on sustainable tourism initiatives. The policy also forms a major highlight of this year’s domestic campaign. The revamped fare with an array of new tourism products was showcased at Chandigarh.
Kerala shifted into high gear with a brand-new tourism policy and an assorted fare of responsible tourism, which began modestly in the palm-fringed backwaters of Kumarakom in 2008 as an experiment. Today, it has mushroomed and fleshed out as the motto of Kerala’s Tourism module.
“To ensure the accomplishment of an ambitious target of a 100% increase in arrival of foreign tourists and 50% in domestic tourists in 5 years, a tourism regulatory authority has been formed. This would help put a stop to any unhealthy practices and guarantee better intervention of the Tourism Department through scrutiny and a licensing system,” said Shri. Kadakampally Surendran, Hon. Minister for Tourism, Government of Kerala.
Kerala, voted the Best Family Destination by Lonely Planet, the Best Leisure Destination by Conde Nast Traveller, and winner of 6 National Tourism Awards in 2016, offers the much-needed succor and adrenaline rush to its adventure-seeking traveler. Kayaking, trekking, paragliding, and river rafting are a few of the activities that form a part of the eco-adventure package.
And with the 5th edition of Kerala Blog Express, a unique social media outreach that brings together international bloggers and influencers just around the corner, Kerala is gearing up to welcome every kind of traveler. Kerala Blog Express starts on March 12.
Scheduled in the latter half of the year is another major B2B event, the Kerala Travel Mart. KTM, India’s first Travel & Tourism mart that has over the years helped showcase Kerala to the world, brings the business fraternity and the entrepreneurs behind Kerala’s unparalleled tourism products and services, on a single platform to network and develop business. The 10th edition of this 4-day event begins on September 17, which is also celebrated as International Tourism Day.
New product focus
For art aficionados, the state endorses the dreamy lanes of Fort Kochi and a pilgrimage to the Kochi Muziris Biennale, which has changed the landscape of contemporary Indian art today and has helped make Kochi the art capital of India. For history buffs looking to transport themselves to another era, there is the Muziris Heritage Project. The remains of a once thriving port offering pepper, gold, silk and ivory, frequented by Arabs, Romans, and Egyptians as early as the first century BC is today preserved across 25 museums as the largest heritage conservation project in India.
Another offering in the historical space is the Spice Route Project that rekindles the 2000-year-old ancient sea links and shared cultural legacies with 30 countries. This UNESCO-backed endeavor has been designed to re-establish Kerala’s maritime associations with the countries on the Spice Route and to revive cultural, historical, and archaeological exchanges between these countries.
The State has already registered a remarkable increase in international and domestic tourist arrivals during 2016. While international tourist arrivals to Kerala during the year 2016 was 10,38,419 – an increase of 6.25% over the previous year’s – domestic tourist arrivals were 1,31,72,535 and marked a 5.67% increase. The total revenue has also seen a whopping increase of 11.12% over last year’s figure.
“Most foreign tourists flock to Kerala to experience its cultural heritage but what we are trying to showcase is the idea that our culture isn’t limited to performances on stage. It is ingrained in our way of life, and the department is taking small but significant steps towards helping a traveler experience the richness of Kerala, be it our temple festivals, cuisine, rural crafts, folk forms, or traditional and popular art forms,” said Smt. Rani George, IAS, Secretary (Tourism), Government of Kerala.
To reach out to the domestic market, a string of partnership meetings are being organized in Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Kolkata, Patna, and New Delhi in the 1st quarter of 2018. Partnership meetings like these provide an opportunity for the tourism trade in the respective cities to interact and establish contact and develop business relationships with a cross-section of tourism industry players.