Kerala tourism's golden era set to continue

Kochi, June 30 (IANS) Kerala's success story in tourism will continue in the coming years, thanks in part to the draw of ayurveda, India's ancient system of medicine, a top official of the state government says.

"Kerala is today India's benchmark for success in tourism, not just in terms of awards and acclaims but also by setting new standards," says Suman Billa, who as Secretary of Kerala Tourism is a key driver of the success story.

"It has been a golden era for tourism over the last decade, and it is still continuing," Billa told IANS.

From 7.9 million domestic and 557,258 foreign tourists in 2009, Kerala paid host to a whopping 9.3 million domestic and 732,685 foreign tourists in 2011.

Kerala's natural beauty, beaches, ancient temples and temple festivals, multi-religious character, a wide variety of cuisine, wild life and of course ayurveda have combined to make it one of the world' most sought after destinations.

Billa said Kerala expects an increase of around 10 percent growth in foreign tourist arrivals and around eight percent rise in the case of domestic arrivals in the coming period.

According to him, the Kerala model of tourism development will sustain nature, nurture communities and provide unique, intrinsic experiences to travelers.

Among other factors, a strong private-public partnership initiative, project synergy, marketing and promotion initiatives, participation in fairs and roadshows have helped make Kerala a pioneering tourism state.

"Tourism has also emerged as a key driver of economic growth in the state, well endowed by pristine natural attractions," Billa said.

"Kerala serves as a model in sustainable tourism development, and is the first state in India to implement certification programmes for ensuring the quality of products and services."

Billa said Kerala's success in the tourism field could be attributed to the strong brand equity that Kerala Tourism has been able to develop over a period of time.

"We have been very conscious of our brand image. One of the major challenges we face is to extend our brand appeal without diluting our unique strengths."

He said the key priority of the Kerala government's tourism policy was to enhance the socio-economic growth of the state through the promotion of 'Responsible Tourism'.

In line with this, hotels, ayurveda centres, houseboats, convention centres, tour operators and tourist transport operators would get 'approval' and incentives based on a set of mandatory requirements.

"We have been maintaining that in tourism development, we (Kerala Tourism) will play the role of a facilitator and catalyst."

Billa made it clear that ayurveda played a major role in wooing tourists to Kerala.

"Kerala has had an unbroken tradition of ayurveda. For the past 15 years or so, Kerala has increasingly come to be seen as the home of ayurveda. Kerala is today synonymous with ayurveda."

Billa said the growing number of ayurveda clinics in Sri Lanka, where a quarter century long separatist conflict has finally ended, should not cause undue worry to Kerala.

"What I need to do is to maintain the standards and quality to continue to be revenant. We should not get into a situation of price wars. As long as we stick to our quality and play our game tight, we will not only attract tourists but grow and grow."

Ayurveda, he admitted, played a major role in making tourists spend 18.2 days on an average in Kerala, which is more than double the national average.

"If you remove ayurveda, Kerala can be covered in a week or 10 days."

(M.R. Narayan Swamy can be contacted at narayan.swamy@ians.in)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders

Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders

Abu Dhabi: Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir elects to bat in the season-opener of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »

Supreme Court says no to BCCI’s request

Supreme Court says no to BCCI’s request

Bench refuses to grant access to recordings of Srini and Dhoni’s depositions before Mudgal committee. More »

Pietersen’s ‘little’ secret is out

Pietersen’s ‘little’ secret is out

A fractured little finger could now throw the Delhi Daredevils captain out of action at the start of this season. More »