Kochi: Kerala's tourism sector is witnessing several curious trends as the lockdown curbs imposed in view of the pandemic are being lifted. Travellers from the state who earlier preferred foreign destinations are now heading to the picturesque areas of their homeland which are close to nature. Meanwhile, young visitors from north India too have started arriving in Kerala. Here is a fact-check.
Profile of travellers
Most of the travellers are youths in the 20-40 age group. Elderly people and very small children are hardly seen. Majority of the tourists are people who used to fly to places such as Bangkok, Dubai and Europe before the lockdown. The travellers include groups of bachelors as well as honeymooners. Popular destinations are Vagamon and Wayanad, which are very crowded during the weekends.
Tourism operators in Kerala are receiving enquiries from metro cities such as Mumbai and Delhi for bookings during the Puja and Deepavali holidays. At the same time, Munnar, Thekkady, Kumarakom, Fort Kochi and Wayanad are receiving up to 85 per cent bookings on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Steep tariff cuts
The new situation has led to significant reduction in room and other rates. For instance, rooms which were charged Rs 8,000 per day are now available at Rs 4,000. Luxury resorts having a tariff of Rs 20,000 are offered at Rs 10,000. Packages which are inclusive of food also are available at half the previous rates. There are many takers for packages that take guests to several spots in less than a week.
What travellers prefer
A sizeable section of the travellers look for cleanliness and safety as all of them strictly follow COVID-19 protocols. They also expect good service and tasty food. Another peculiar feature is the preference for cottage model accommodation over concrete towers.
Yet to come alive
Even though the tourism sector has resumed operations, MICE (meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition) sector is still inactive. Moreover, there are no banquets or conventions. Similarly, Ayurveda tourism is yet to pick up as travellers from outside Kerala need to be in quarantine for staying over seven days.
Houseboats too are under repair. A number of packages include houseboat trips. Big tower hotels in cities are not crowded at present and are waiting for domestic and international flights to resume. In addition, stakeholders expect more publicity and promotions to attract travellers. “Unless airlines increase their services, tourists won’t start arriving from other places,” says U C Riaz, a tourism entrepreneur in Kerala.
While tourists kept away due to the lockdown, hotels in Kochi hosted over 10,000 people during the last four months. They were seamen spending a seven-day quarantine as part of crew change.