Kerala Tourism has started benefiting from surfing and wave riding, now a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.

The country’s first ever national three-day Surfing and Stand up Paddle competition that commenced in Kovalam on Friday is a shot in arm for Kerala Tourism’s effort over the years to tap the huge potential for recreational tourism.

Over 100 surfers from within the country and abroad are taking part in the competition and the event has been billed as a great way to commence Surf tourism.

Tourists arriving at the famed beach resort over the last two years had been looking forward to surfing, wave riding, scuba diving, snorkelling, boating and water skiing.

Artificial reef

The host of water sports had been made possible with commissioning of a multipurpose artificial soft reef off the Light House. Installed between the Light House and the Edakkal rocks, the reef has protected the eroding coast and had made Kovalam a round-the-year surfing destination. Since then, the reef had been able to stabilise the beaches and make them wider by eliminating the wave power offshore. Tourists are also getting sheltered swimming.

The Rs.7.8-crore project, funded under the Centre’s tsunami rehabilitation programme, was executed by the New-Zealand-based Artificial Surfing Reef Ltd. through the Department of Harbour Engineering for Kerala Tourism.

“The reef has achieved all its goals of enhancing coastal ecology, recreational benefit and introducing water sporting activity,” Joseph Mathew, Coastal Scientist, associated with the design of the artificial reef, told The Hindu.

Visa on arrival

With Tourist Visa on Arrival soon to be launched at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, the tourism authorities are hoping to prevent the movement of surfers from Kovalam to adjoining Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Besides, Kovalam will get free publicity and the tourism authorities can now market it as a surfing destination around the world.

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