Kerala Tourism trying to focus on neglected northern part

Published on : Friday, June 23, 2017

Kerala TourismMore than 500 years ago Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama arrived on the shores of Calicut, in north Kerala. But now, the Malabar region is the least visited part of the state by tourists.

 
According to P Bala Kiran, Director, Kerala Tourism, almost 90 per cent of the tourists visiting Kerala head to the southern part of the state doing the Kochi, Munnar, Thekkady, Kumarakam, Kovalam circuit.

 
Last year, only 6000 of the over one million foreign visitors to Kerala visited places in the north such as Kannur and Kasargode, he reveals.

 
To change the imbalance, and increase the geographical spread of tourist arrivals to the state, Kerala Tourism now plans to promote its Malabar region aggressively through a ₹325 crore project.

 
“In the next few years, we are going to brand Malabar Tourism in a big way,” says Bala Kiran. The nerve centre for the new Malabar circuit will be Kannur, where an international airport is coming up rapidly. Kerala Tourism will link up the circuit through an exciting river cruise project – called Malanadu cruise – that links eight rivers and backwaters of Kannur and Kasargod districts, says Bala Kiran, who was in Delhi to pitch for a grant from the Central government’s Swadesh Darshan scheme.

 
God’s Own Country has been trying to market its northern region for a while now, throwing open Bekal to hoteliers nearly two decades ago. But so far it has not really taken off. Bala Kiran offers a reason. “A single destination rarely works. If Bekal had been supported by Wynad, Calicut and Kannur then it might have taken off,” he says. According to him, tourism circuits take two or three years to mature and this time round with a whole host of infrastructure being created, the Malabar region could take off.

 
Once the unexplored Malabar region takes off , Bala Kiran says the state is hopeful of doubling its tourist arrival numbers. The goal is to double foreign tourist numbers by 2021 and grow the domestic tourist (currently it is 13 million) by 50 per cent.

 
Kerala is also going to do a tactical shift in how it projects God’s Own Country in its tourism campaigns. So far it has been promoting the state as the land of backwaters and the land of Ayurveda. According to Bala Kiran, although the campaigns have paid off very well for the state, the time has now come to change gear given the changing demographics of domestic visitors to Kerala. “Sixty five per cent of our population is below 35 years of age so we want to create an activity based image for Kerala,” he says.

 
Kerala Tourism’s ad film made for the Kochi biennale ‘A Room with a View’ recently bagged the Kyoorius award in the 60 second film category. The film was part of the state’s Live Inspired campaign that seeks to promote God’s Own Country as an art and cultural hub. “We are now positioning the state at a higher level of consciousness promoting art, design, architecture,” says Bala Kiran.

 
Henceforth Kerala Tourism will be rebranded as the land of adventure, with a lot of emphasis on water sports. All along its coast lines it plans to develop water parks and promote water based activities. “We will subsidise water sports, incentivize these,” he says.

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