Buoyed by a clutch of global awards and accolades, Kerala Tourism will unleash a raft of new projects and events that will turn the state into an all-season destination and make the stay of new-age travellers a relaxing, rejuvenating and learning experience by unfolding before them the captivating charm of the rural hinterland and lesser-known places.
Introducing new destinations, conceptualising innovative tourism circuits, investing in infrastructure development, broadening the award-winning Responsible Tourism initiative, which allows tourists to experience village life and local communities to benefit, and ensuring better connectivity are the new focus areas of the state’s rejigged tourism initiatives.
This was announced at a media session addressed by Sreekumar S, Deputy Director (in-charge) of Kerala Tourism, as part of the Kerala Tourism Partnership Meet at Eros Hotel in the city today. More than 200 Delhi-based tour operators and travel agents participated in the meet.
Raising its profile beyond the celebrated image as a land of enchanting natural beauty, the emphasis now will also be on activity-driven and experiential tourism that would take visitors to the interiors of the state and explore its unknown or little-known spots, making it an inter-connected tourism hotspot.
As part of a concerted strategy to promote Kerala as a global wedding destination and a paradise for honeymooners, the state government has announced a project to mount digital and airport-based marketing campaigns, highlighting its huge potential in this promising segment. The three projects — ‘Destination Wedding Campaign – Airports Translites’, ‘Destination Wedding Campaign – Social media, Google search & Display ads’, and ‘Promotion of Destination Wedding Microsite’ — will focus on the state’s inherent strengths that make it an ideal choice for destination marriage.
Under the ‘Destination Wedding Microsite’ project’, e-brochures will be prepared with eye-catching pictures of ideal wedding destinations and content in both English and Hindi. Also, online promotion of e-brochures and web pages will be done via Google ads.
Kerala will also leverage its globally acclaimed Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission, which allows visitors to experience village life while supporting the communities that host them. The Mission has now become the first government-owned society in the state to provide training, marketing, and other support systems to local communities to start various initiatives in the tourism sector. Registering the RT Mission as a society will help it from getting funds from local governments and other agencies.
The RT initiative bagged the global award at World Travel Market (WTM), London last year. The New York Times has now paid glowing tributes to it while releasing the list of 52 must-visit places in 2023 in which Kerala features as the only destination in India.
Among the other tourism activities that would be promoted to make deep inroads in domestic and international markets will be the ongoing December 2022-April 2023 Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KBM), India’s only event of international contemporary art, whose fifth edition is getting a stupendous response from connoisseurs of art as well as tourists from across the world.
Kerala Tourism will also display the trendsetting caravan tourism (Keravan Kerala) and the award-winning STREET, which is an acronym for Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic Tourism hubs that take tourism deep into the state’s interiors and rural hinterlands.
Kerala recently launched the Destination Challenge initiative to identify and develop a large number of places with tourism potential across the length and breadth of the state. Tourism Department will be taking on board local self-government institutions like panchayats as key partners in this scheme, which is based on the concept of ‘explore the unexplored’ and creating micro-destinations in every corner of the state, down to the panchayat level. This would mean at least one destination in each panchayat.
Alongside, Kerala’s houseboats, caravan stays, jungle lodges, plantation visits, homestays, Ayurveda-based wellness solutions, countryside walks and adventure activities, including trekking to verdant hills, will provide a unique experience to visitors. Adventure, Wellness, MICE and Responsible Tourism, will also be taken forward with a greater sense of purpose and vigour.
Kerala Tourism will also launch a string of travel trade networking activities, including participation in trade fairs and organising B2B roadshows in January-February in prominent Indian cities. These include the February 2-4 OTM (Outbound Travel Market) Mumbai at Jio World Convention Centre, and TTF (Travel and Tourism Fair) Chennai where the state’s unique touristy features will be showcased.
Besides, plans have been chalked out to organise roadshows in Chandigarh, Jaipur and Lucknow in January. Another series of B2B trade meets will be organised in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru in February.
Kerala Tourism Minister Shri Mohamed Riyas says the focus will no longer be confined to beaches, backwaters and hill stations. “We now want to transform the whole of Kerala into an interconnected tourist haven where visitors get plenty of choices and diverse experiences. All this will make a trip to Kerala a wholesome experience for visitors looking for diverse experiences, be it a stay in a houseboat or caravan, ecologically responsible adventure activities, or visits to heritage and cultural centres.”
The recent global awards and accolades are recognitions to the state’s community-based activities in the travel and hospitality sector. The government considers that sustainable tourism development will be meaningful only if it leads to the benefit of local communities. The global honours will give a fillip to the arrival of foreign tourists to the state.
Kerala set an all-time record in domestic tourist footfalls last year. The state hosted 1.33 crore tourists in the first three quarters of the year. Significantly, this marked an increase of 1.94 per cent from the pre-pandemic year.