Expirence travel and living in India



The crowd was so happy when Mathieu, the world Acro Champ from France was flying in the air. He was flying all around the Island, in between the sails and the banners. Mathieu and his Acro Show was the crowd puller of the Event...

Its Hue and Cry every day about the alarmingly dwindling numbers of inbound tourists to Kerala. Every other day, the department of tourism and the policy makers come up with fascinating numbers which scare not only the up market and hi profile resort owners; but also the lifeline of one third of the general population in the State. Knowingly or unknowingly, the multiplier effect of tourism has touched all walks of life. And, one can imagine the “social impacts” when that life line is suddenly pulled out which can cripple the entire society.Like commodities and financial markets, tourism destinations and tourism activities are also cyclic. Countries which thrived on single destinations and single tourism products had paid the price for their complacency and lack of vision. Pattaya(Thailand), the most popular beach destination in Asia in the eighties was among the top in any tourist’s itinerary. Pattaya offered all the four S(sun, sand, sea and sex) required for a beach destination.

The nineties saw the obvious. Families started avoiding this destination, tourists arrival trickled down, sudden loss of income enhanced social unrest and the impacts robbed them more than what they earned in the previous decade. But, Thailand is a country which always find a way out of any situation. The provincial administration brought all the stake holders together. They put in more ‘activities’. Go karting stadiums came up. Elephat villages, Race Tracks, Museums, Sky Diving, Para Sailing, Recreational Flying, marathon for tourists.. …”Pattaya, more than sea” campaign was launched and today, Pattaya has bounced back as a family destination. Thailand also expects a significant drop in foreign tourists arrival this year.

But, in Thailand, each province has something or the other to offer and Thai people always holiday in different provinces, proactively encouraged by the Government. This provides much needed buffer in such bad times(Thailand is only slightly bigger than Kerala with a population of 6 crores).
Kerala is not different in this trap.

Ayurveda and Back Waters were the only tourism products we had to offer. Now, there are other Indian States which offer ayurveda for lesser price with higher quality and service. Kerala has many touristic destinations. Unfotunately, most of the places lack  touristic activities. Paul James, a British tourist visited Kerala recently made this comment…” Kerala, it is a place for the senior citizens…nothing to do..”

In the old days, people were able to accumulate wealth only at the time of retirement. And, that was the time they chose to travel. So, relaxation was the main ‘expectation’ in their travel agenda(travel Push&Pull theory). Time has changed. Most of the travelers now are young and they expect activities in their destination. Increasing numbers in Wayanad and Idikki are examples.

Volvo Ocean Race Stop Over at Cochin makes a case in point. At a time when tourism arrivals are dwindling alarmingly with terrorism along with economic recession, adding salt to the wound, the Volvo Stop Over rekindled some enthusiasm in the hospitality industry.

ASSTA(Adventure Sports & Sustainable Tourism Academy) with the support of Kerala Tourism, brought in Mathieu Rounet, World Para Motor Champion to add color for the Show and to promote adventure sports as a tourism supplement in Kerala. According to Gopa Varma, ASSTA Chairman, a “one stop” adventure tourism center comprising Water sports, Aero Sports & Terrestrial sports is the need of the hour to promote adventure tourism in Kerala.

This would be financially viable with “private public participation” as many sports loving people have already offered to chip in if such a project could be initiated.Our tourism policy makers and administrators are trying to save the situation with road shows in other Indian States and abroad. Its good and may help in the fiercely competitive market place. But, they often forget that the real buffer to be used now is our own market place; the fourteen districts of the Kerala State. Let the road shows target each District.

Let the government machinery promote and encourage people  to move from one place to another within the State. It’s a general practice that one spends more while traveling and indulge in purchasing which they would have avoided at their own place. How many people in the southern districts have seen Dharmadom in Kannore or Bakkel  fort..? Or, how many people in the northern districts has seen the mistic hills of Ponmudi..? This not only helps to cushion the current turmoil; but also create the much needed service culture(athidhi devo bhava!) among the stake holders. Tough times never last. Lets make the best out of it.
(Gopa varma, lives in Bangkok)

(c) Adventure Sports And Sustainable Tourism Academy

Travel and life in India