COVID-19 has changed our lives in more ways than one. Today it is unthinkable to step out of our house without a face mask and hand sanitizer. They have become an integral part of our lives. Now organizing big events and weddings require far more thought and planning than ever before. People were forced to reduce extravagance and the number of invitees for a wedding. Currently, Kerala seems to have embraced European culture’s destination weddings. Not just that, our tourism sector is also finding newer experiments to promote tourism in the state.
Many prestigious hotels and resorts are getting commissioned for organizing destination weddings now. This will give a much-needed boost to the dwindling tourism industry that has been struggling since covid. The absence of foreign tourists has also shaken the economics of the tourism sector. There will be more weddings during the months of November and December which are considered peak wedding seasons. Keeping an eye on the budget there are more chances of families opting for weddings during the off-season. If that is the case, it is going to help the tourism sector with all through-the-year destination wedding bookings.
What is a destination wedding?
A destination wedding, simply put, is a wedding that takes place outside of the city or town. It can also be a place that the soon-to-be-married couple currently lives in! But mostly it will be some fancy destination, where guests are flown in. A destination wedding takes the stress out of planning a regular wedding at home with people you barely know that your parents make you invite. What really put the onus on destination weddings is the new COVID-19 restrictions that hinder the participation of a large crowd. Currently, the destination weddings are mostly favoured by Marwaris and Gujaratis who are settled in Kerala. They are the ones who are approaching resorts and hotels. Not that Malayalees are far behind. Some of the most popular picks are Ashtamudi and Kovalam.
Since there is still uncertainty regarding the travel options for people from outside Kerala to travel to the state, very few tourists are coming here. The tourist department is hopeful of an inflow of North Indian tourists into the state in the coming days. If the travel restrictions are eased by the end of the season, they are hopeful of better profits for the tourism sector. Last year there wasn’t much of a tourist season.
It is of course a known fact that those who work in the corporate sector are always working inside the confines of closed spaces fenced by concrete walls. But till the onset of COVID-19, no one had complaints regarding the claustrophobic spaces. The problem started when people found themselves confined inside their homes and felt the need to enjoy nature. Suddenly the prospect of outdoors, mountains, and valleys looked inviting. So they did the next best thing—started creating tiny gardens on their balconies and those rows of flowerpots and plants being sold on the roads.
“Nature is calming and refreshing. It keeps your mind fresh and energetic. I like to work close to nature. It makes my work more productive,” shares an employee of a multinational company.
The more people started getting close to nature, a new lifestyle concept emerged in our state—Staycation. It’s about mixing business with pleasure. So the deal is to rent a beautiful resort and work amidst the backdrop of nature and enjoy the benefits of a luxurious stay. One can have maximum fun after working hours. It instantly helps in dissolving the stress and tiredness that comes with work.
In fact, a staycation is a much-preferred vacation idea for many. Despite the majority of companies starting their workforce in full swing, except for the IT sector, Staycation still has got many takers. That’s perhaps one of the positive things that came out of COVID-19 for the tourism industry—staycation. Another thing is the weekend trips.
It’s when people were trapped inside their homes for months that they realised the value of travel and socializing. So now more and more families are planning weekend trips after a hectic week at work. Wayanad and Munnar are getting a lot of footfalls during weekends
Awaiting International tourists
November, December, and January are the tourist seasons in Kerala. But the uncertainty involving the international flight services is again a hindrance to the tourism prospects of Kerala. Though there are more tourists from outside Kerala as well as within the state, the tourism industry can only hope to regain its past glory with the arrival of international tourists. Foreign tourists are known to spend a lot of money while in Kerala. Their arrival will also help the state coffers. Vaccine licensing issues and travel regulations in different countries are keeping tourists away. Tourists are also scared of losing their hard-earned money if countries or states suddenly change policies or tighten rules after booking a trip. Such strict conditions make it difficult to make trips to Kerala, even for those from northern states. The tourism industry in Kerala is now mostly supported by tourists who still embark on the trips braving all odds.
In Kerala, the practice of traveling in small caravans called van life has been evolving for a few years. This policy aims to attract visitors who look forward to a new experience of exploring Kerala's many destinations in their caravans. Unauthorized beautification of vehicles can lead to accidents. The Department of Motor Vehicles came out strongly against it. With the approval of caravans, it is now legal to own or rent a caravan. Caravan tourism involves walking around in a vehicle and sleeping in it. The caravan parks are coming up in beautiful natural locations, with high levels of security and hygiene. This will help in opening up opportunities for new investments into the tourism sector and providing employment opportunities at the local level by unlocking the potential of responsible tourism. In the past, Madhya Pradesh (a few years ago), Karnataka (last year), and Maharashtra, earlier this year, have introduced the idea of caravan tourism. If caravan tourism booms in the state, it will help the travel industry and its various stakeholders.
The tourism sector in Kerala itself is undergoing major changes after the pandemic. Innovation is always what attracts people. In that sense, tourism in Kerala is likely to reach new heights after COVID-19.