Kerala Tourism

God's own country

Kerala, a state situated on the tropical Malabar Coast of southwestern India, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Named as one of the ten paradises of the world by the National Geographic Traveler, Kerala is famous especially for its ecotourism initiatives.[1] Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demography, has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Growing at a rate of 13.31%, the tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy.[2]

Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a hitherto unknown destination, with most tourism circuits concentrated around the north of the country. Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation—the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state—laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry. In the decades that followed, Kerala Tourism was able to transform itself into one of the niche holiday destinations in India. The tag line God's Own Country, which was used in its tourism promotions, soon became synonymous with the state. Today, Kerala Tourism is a global superbrand and regarded as one of the destinations with the highest brand recall.[3] In 2006, Kerala attracted 8.5 million tourists–an increase of 23.68% in foreign tourist arrivals compared to the previous year, thus making it one of the fastest growing tourism destination in the world.[4]

Popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalam, Cherai and Varkala; the hill stations of Munnar, Nelliampathi, Ponmudi and Wayanad; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar and Eravikulam National Park. The "backwaters" region—an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes, and canals that centre on Alleppey, Kumarakom, and Punnamada—also see heavy tourist traffic. Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace, Hill Palace, Mattancherry Palace are also visited. Cities such as Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram are popular centres for shopping and traditional theatrical performances.

The state's tourism agenda promotes ecologically sustained tourism, which focuses on the local culture, wilderness adventures, volunteering and personal growth of the local population. Efforts are taken to minimise the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people.



[edit] Historical context

Today, resorts such as this dot the length and breath of Kerala.
Today, resorts such as this dot the length and breath of Kerala.

Since its incorporation as a state, Kerala's economy largely operated under welfare-based democratic socialist principles. This mode of development, though resulted in a high Human Development Index and standard of living among the people, lead to an economic stagnation in the 1980s (growth rate of 2.3% annually[5] ) This apparent paradox — high human development and low economic development — lead to a large number of educated unemployed seeking jobs overseas, especially in the Gulf countries. Due to the large number of expatriates, many travel operators and agencies set shop in the state to felicitate their travel needs. However, the trends soon reciprocated with the travel agencies noticing the undermined potential of the state as a tourist destination.

By 1986, tourism had gained an industry status.[3] Waler Mendis, a copywriter at Mudra Communications, an advertisement firm in Kochi is credited with the choice of God's Own Country, the malayalam equivalent of which had been in use for sometime, as a tag line for its advertisement campaigns.[6] Aggressive promotion in print and electronic media were able to invite a sizeable investment in the hospitality industry. By the early 2000s, tourism had grown into a fully fledged, multi-billion dollar industry in the state. The state was able to carve a niche place for itself in the world tourism industry, thus becoming one of the places with the 'highest brand recall'.[7] In 2003, Kerala, a hitherto unknown tourism destination, became the fastest growing tourism destination in the world.[8]

Today, growing at a rate of 13.31%, Kerala is one of the most visited tourism destinations in India.[2][9]

[edit] Statistics

 This short section requires expansion.

[edit] Major attractions

[edit] Beaches

Main article: Beaches in Kerala
Varkala beach
Varkala beach

Flanked on the western coast by the Arabian Sea, Kerala has a long coastline of 580 km (360.39 miles); all of which is virtually dotted with sandy beaches.

Kovalam beach near Thiruvananthapuram was among the first beaches in Kerala to attract tourists. Rediscovered by back-packers and tan-seekers in the sixties and followed by hordes of hippies in the seventies, Kovalam is today the most visited tourist destination in the state.[10][11][12]

Other popularly visited beaches in the state include those at Alappuzha Beach, Cherai Beach, Kappad, Kovalam, Marari beach, Fort Kochi and Varkala. The Muzhappilangad Beach beach at Kannur is the only drive-in beach in India.

[edit] Backwaters

A house boat on the backwaters near Alleppey in Kerala
A house boat on the backwaters near Alleppey in Kerala
Main article: Kerala Backwaters

The backwaters in Kerala are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast). Kettuvallam (Kerala houseboats) in the backwaters are one of the prominent tourist attractions in Kerala. Alleppey, known as the "Venice of the East" has a large network of canals that meander through the town. The Vallam Kali (the Snake Boat Race) held every year in August is a major sporting attraction.

The backwater network includes five large lakes (including Ashtamudi Kayal and Vembanad Kayal) linked by 1500 km of canals, both manmade and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually the entire length of Kerala state. The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats range.

[edit] Hill stations

Eastern Kerala consists of land encroached upon by the Western Ghats; the region thus includes high mountains, gorges, and deep-cut valleys. The wildest lands are covered with dense forests, while other regions lie under tea and coffee plantations (established mainly in the 19th and 20th centuries) or other forms of cultivation. The Western Ghats rises on average to 1500 m elevation above sea level. Certain peaks may reach to 2500 m. Popular hill stations in the region include Devikulam, Munnar, Nelliyampathi, Peermade, Ponmudi, Vagamon,Wayanadand Kottanchery.

[edit] Wildlife

Monkey seen in Nelliampathy forest
Monkey seen in Nelliampathy forest

Most of Kerala, whose native habitat consists of wet evergreen rainforests at lower elevations and highland deciduous and semi-evergreen forests in the east, is subject to a humid tropical climate. however, significant variations in terrain and elevation have resulted in a land whose biodiversity registers as among the world’s most significant. Most of Kerala's significantly biodiverse tracts of wilderness lie in the evergreen forests of its easternmost districts. Kerala also hosts two of the world’s Ramsar Convention-listed wetlands: Lake Sasthamkotta and the Vembanad-Kol wetlands are noted as being wetlands of international importance. There are also numerous protected conservation areas, including 1455.4 km² of the vast Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. In turn, the forests play host to such major fauna as Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus), Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), Leopard (Panthera pardus), and Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius), and Grizzled Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura).[13] More remote preserves, including Silent Valley National Park in the Kundali Hills, harbor endangered species such as Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus), Indian Sloth Bear (Melursus (Ursus) ursinus ursinus), and Gaur (the so-called "Indian Bison" — Bos gaurus). More common species include Indian Porcupine (Hystrix indica), Chital (Axis axis), Sambar (Cervus unicolor), Gray Langur, Flying Squirrel, Swamp Lynx (Felis chaus kutas), Boar (Sus scrofa), a variety of catarrhine Old World monkey species, Gray Wolf (Canis lupus), Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).

Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad is home to the largest population of lion-tailed Macaque.They are among the World's rarest and most threatened primates
Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad is home to the largest population of lion-tailed Macaque.They are among the World's rarest and most threatened primates

Many reptiles, such as king cobra, viper, python, various turtles and crocodiles are to be found in Kerala — again, disproportionately in the east. Kerala's avifauna include endemics like the Sri Lanka Frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger), Oriental Bay Owl, large frugivores like the Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) and Indian Grey Hornbill, as well as the more widespread birds such as Peafowl, Indian Cormorant, Jungle and Hill Myna, Oriental Darter, Black-hooded Oriole, Greater Racket-tailed and Black Drongoes, bulbul (Pycnonotidae), species of Kingfisher and Woodpecker, Jungle Fowl, Alexandrine Parakeet, and assorted ducks and migratory birds. Additionally, freshwater fish such as kadu (stinging catfishHeteropneustes fossilis) and brackishwater species such as Choottachi (orange chromide — Etroplus maculatus; valued as an aquarium specimen) also are native to Kerala's lakes and waterways.

Wildlife trips are informational and researchers are benefited by the extensive wildlife access in Wayanad distrcit.[14]

[edit] Ayurveda

Medical tourism, promoted by traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda and Siddha are widely popular in the state, and draws increasing numbers of tourists. A combination of many factors has led to the increase in popularity of medical tourism: high costs of healthcare in industrialised nations, ease and affordability of international travel, improving technology and standards of care.

However, rampant recent growth in this sector has made the government apprehensive. The government is now considering introduction of a grading system which would grade hospitals and clinics, thus helping tourists in selecting one for their treatments.[15]

[edit] Culture

Face of a Kathakali artist (Kathi Vesham)
Face of a Kathakali artist (Kathi Vesham)

Kerala's culture is mainly Dravidian in origin, deriving from a greater Tamil-heritage region known as Tamilakam. Later, Kerala's culture was elaborated on through centuries of contact with overseas cultures.[16] Native performing arts include koodiyattom, kathakali – from katha ("story") and kali ("play") – and its offshoot Kerala natanam, koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam ("dance of the enchantress"), thullal, padayani, and theyyam. Other arts are more religion- and tribal-themed. These include chavittu nadakom, oppana (originally from Malabar), which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations. However, many of these artforms largely play to tourists or at youth festivals, and are not as popular among most ordinary Keralites. These people look to more contemporary art and performance styles, including those employing mimicry and parody. Additionally, a substantial Malayalam film industry effectively competes against both Bollywood and Hollywood.

Several ancient ritualised arts are Keralite in origin; these include kalaripayattu (kalari ("place", "threshing floor", or "battlefield") and payattu ("exercise" or "practice")). Among the world's oldest martial arts, oral tradition attributes kalaripayattu's emergence to Parasurama. Other ritual arts include theyyam and poorakkali.

In respect of Fine Arts, the State has an abounding tradition of both ancient and contemporary art and artists.The traditional Kerala murals are found in ancient temples, churches and palaces across the State. These paintings, mostly dating back between the 9th to 12th centuries AD, display a distinct style, and a colour code which is predominantly ochre and green.

A procession of gold-caparisoned Kerala elephants at the Thrissur Pooram
A procession of gold-caparisoned Kerala elephants at the Thrissur Pooram

Like the rest of India, religious diversity is very prominent in Kerala. The principal religions are Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam; Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Buddhism have smaller followings. The states historic ties with the rest of the world has resulted in the state having many famous temples, churches, and mosques. The Paradesi Synagogue in Kochi is the oldest in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Recognising the potential of tourism in the diversity of religious faiths, related festivals and structures, the tourism department launched a Pilgrimage tourism project.[17][18]

Major pilgrim tourism attractions include Guruvayur, Sabarimala, Malayatoor, Paradesi Synagogue and Attukal Ponkala.

See also: Pooram

[edit] Advertising campaigns

Kerala Tourism is noted for its innovative and market-focused ad campaigns.[19] These campaigns have won the tourism department numerous awards, including the Das Golden Stadttor Award for Best Commercial, 2006,[20] Pacific Asia Travel Association- Gold Award for Marketing, 2003 and the Government of India's Best Promotion Literature, 2004, Best Publishing, 2004 and Best Tourism Film, 2001.

Catchy slogans and innovative designs are considered a trademark of brand Kerala Tourism. Celebrity promotions are also used to attract more tourists to the state.[21][22] The Kerala tourism website is one of the widely visited site on the internet, and has been the recipient of many awards. Recently, the tourism department has also engaged in advertising via mobiles, by setting up a WAP portal, and distributing wallpapers and ringtones related to Kerala through it.[23]

[edit] Threats to the tourism industry

With increasing threats posed by global warming and changing weather patterns, it is feared that much of Kerala's low lying areas might be susceptible to beach erosions and coastal flooding . The differing monsoon patterns also suggest possible tropical cyclones in the future.[24]

[edit] Awards

The state has won numerous awards for its tourism initiatives. These include:

  • 2005 - Nominated as one among the three finalists at the World Travel and Tourism Council's ‘Tourism for Tomorrow’ awards in the destination category.[25]
  • Das Golden Stadttor Award for Best Commercial, 2006
A grassy hill in Ranipuram, Kasaragod.
A grassy hill in Ranipuram, Kasaragod.
Pacific Asia Travel Association
  • Grand award for Environment, 2006
  • Gold award for Ecotourism, 2006
  • Gold award for Publication, 2006
  • Gold Award for E-Newsletter, 2005
  • Honourable Mention for Culture, 2005
  • Gold Award for Culture, 2004
  • Gold Award for Ecotourism, 2004
  • Gold Award for CD-ROM, 2004 and 2003
  • Gold Award for Marketing, 2003
  • Grand Award for Heritage, 2002
Kerala, nicknamed as "God's own country", has a reputation of being one of the most beautiful states in Southern India. Shown here is Munnar, in Kerala.
Kerala, nicknamed as "God's own country", has a reputation of being one of the most beautiful states in Southern India. Shown here is Munnar, in Kerala.
Pacific Asia Travel Writers Association
  • International Award for Leisure Tourism, 2000-2001
Government of India
  • Best Performing Tourism State, 2005
  • Best Maintained Tourist-friendly Monument, 2005
  • Best Publishing, 2005
  • Best Marketed and Promoted State, 2004.
  • Best Maintained Tourist-friendly Monument, 2004
  • Best Innovative Tourism Project, 2004
  • Best Promotion Literature, 2004
  • Best Publishing, 2004
  • Best Performing State for 2003, 2001, 2000 and 1999 - Award for Excellence in Tourism.
  • Best Practices by a State Government, 2003
  • Best Eco-tourism Product, 2003
  • Best Wildlife Sanctuary, 2003
  • Most Innovative Use of Information Technology, 2003 and 2001
  • Most Tourist-friendly International Airport, 2002
  • Most Eco-friendly Destination, 2002
  • Best Tourism Film, 2001
Outlook Traveller - TAAI
  • Best State that promoted Travel & Tourism, 2000-2001
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
  • Award for Best Marketing, 2003
  • Award for Best Use of IT in Tourism, 2003
Galileo - Express Travel & Tourism
  • Award for the Best Tourism Board, 2006
  • Award for the Best State Tourism Board, 2003

[edit] See also

v  d  e
Topics in Kerala — see also: Portal:Kerala
Tamilakam · Chera · Kerala school · Battle of Kulachal · Anglo-Mysore Wars · Vaikom Satyagraham · Perumpadapu Swaroopam
Economy and Politics
Government of Kerala · Chief Ministers · Governors · Legislative Assembly · Kerala Model · Left Democratic Front · United Democratic Front · Panchayat elections · State Government Organizations · Politicians
Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve · Annamalai Hills · Backwaters · Districts · Eravikulam National Park · Flora and fauna · Malabar Coast · Marayoor · Nelliampathi Mountains · Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve · Nilgiri Hills · Palakkad Gap  · Protected areas of Kerala  · Vembanad Lake
Namboothiris · Samanthas · Nairs · Adivasis · Syrian Catholic · Latin Catholic · Cochin Jews · Dravidians · Ezhavas · Mappilas · Notable Keralites · Saint Thomas Christians · Scheduled Tribes of Kerala · Syrian Malabar Nasrani
Arts · Chenda · Cuisine · Duff muttu · Kalarippayattu · Kathakali · Kolkali · Koodiyattam · Kuthu ratheeb · Malayalam calendar · Malayalam · Mappila paattukal · Mohiniaattam · Music · Onam · Oppana · Ottamthullal · Panchari melam · Panchavadyam · Pooram · Sopanam · Thayambaka · Theyyam · Triumvirate of poets · Vallamkali · Vishu · Sarpam Thullal · Mappila Malayalam · Judeo-Malayalam

[edit] External links

[edit] Notes and references

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  1. ^ "Tourism beckons", The Hindu, 11 May 2004. Retrieved on 9 August 2006. 
  2. ^ a b Tourist statistics for Kerala. Tourism Statistics. Kerala Tourism Development Corporation. Retrieved on 9 August 2006.
  3. ^ a b Kerala Tourism — Superbrand. Superbrand status of Kerala Tourism brand. Government of Kerala. Retrieved on 9 August 2006.
  4. ^ - Tourist Statistics 2006
  5. ^ Mohindra 2003, p. 8.
  6. ^ In the name of God... Kerala Tourism's new ad campaign
  7. ^ Kerala Tourism - Branding a Tourist Destination
  8. ^ Kerala is the world's fastest-growing tourism destination says Renuka Choudhry
  9. ^ NDTV - God's own country: Govt launches campaign to pull tourists
  10. ^ Ayub, Akber (ed), Kerala: Maps & More, Coastal Circuit, 2006 edition 2007 reprint, pp. 96-112, Stark World Publishing, Bangalore, ISBN 81-902505-2-3
  11. ^ Govind, M.Harish. Ramparts by the Arabian Sea. Magazine. The Hindu, 19 June 2005. Retrieved on 8 January 2008.
  13. ^ (Sreedharan 2004, p. 12).
  14. ^ Wildlife Safari in Wayanad
  15. ^ Accreditation Of Hospitals To Promote Top Medical Tourism Destination In India
  16. ^ Bhagyalekshmy 2004, pp. 6-7.
  17. ^ Incredible Kerala
  18. ^ Jumbo tourism: Guruvayur temple to woo visitors
  19. ^ Kerala Tourism to unveil new TV campaign
  20. ^ Kerala tourism commercial gets award
  21. ^ TV stars to promote Kerala tourism
  22. ^ Kerala tourism to sign Big B and Aishwarya Rai as brand ambassadors
  23. ^ Wooing tourists through mobile phones
  24. ^ Climate change to drive radical changes in global tourism
  25. ^ Kerala Tourism Awards list
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