Domestic tourists hill stations bound

Updated - April 21, 2023 08:32 am IST

Published - April 20, 2023 08:02 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

 

Domestic tourists are flocking to the hills of Kerala to escape the unbearably hot and humid conditions in the plains. 

Perhaps this summer will witness a record number of local people travelling to the hills, with Idukki and Wayanad receiving the lion’s share of the people looking for some quiet, cool time away from the sultriness along the coasts and in cities.  

Domestic tourism, inter-district and inter-State, has registered an uptick post-pandemic. Statistics available with Kerala Tourism paints a rosy picture of summer tourism in Kerala. The months of April and May mark the peak tourist season in Kerala in terms of the number of tourists visiting the hill stations.

The total number of tourists who visited Kerala during April and May in 2022 was 16.11 and 19.10 lakh respectively, whereas December 2022 clocked the highest monthly tourist arrival of 20.64 lakh.  These figures were the highest-ever for these months. 

According to James Kodianthara, chairman of the Kerala chapter of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, although there has been a clear surge in families visiting hill stations during April and May, which coincides with the school vacation in Kerala, 2022 witnessed a record of sorts as the year saw people hitting the streets breaking free from the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.  

The latest travel trends in 2023 also bode well for domestic tourism with the sector maintaining its buoyancy on strong demand from the domestic sector, says Mr. Kodianthara. 

Though April-May is the peak season for domestic travellers within the State, summer holidaying will last till June and July — the summer vacation in northern India. Summer tourists from the north will then make beeline for monsoon tourism in Kerala.  

“Although summer tourism for tourists within the State is mainly limited to hill stations, summer vacation in northern India will benefit the Ayurveda wellness tourism sector as monsoon is the ideal period to begin wellness treatment,” says Sajeev Kurup, president, Ayurveda Promotion Society.

While it is the hospitality and travel sector that generally stands to gain from an inflow of tourists during the summer, there is a contender this time around — the Kerala State Transport Corporation, which is promoting budget tourism and doing a good job of it, as the bookings suggest. 

Buoyed by the success of the sightseeing tours rolled out by its budget tourism cell, the KSRTC has announced as many as 440 services to various destinations inside the State during April and May, and surprisingly, most of these services have been booked well in advance. 

Jacob Sam Lopez, Chief Traffic Manager, Budget Tourism Cell, KSRTC, says the time may not be too far away for the ‘Aanavandi’ to emerge as the biggest tour operator in the State.  

“KSRTC has ferried as many as 2.64 lakh tourists to various tourist destinations in the State last fiscal netting ₹12 crore, against the targeted ₹10 crore. This fiscal, we have set an ambitious target of ₹25 crore revenue, and we are hopeful of achieving it, aided by strong demand from middle-income groups and families,” says Mr. Lopez. Most of the tourists who rely on KSRTC buses are ‘one-day tourists,’ who prefer not to spend a night at the destination.

However, the KSRTC also has plans to provide night-stay facilities for tourists at selected locations where it has land and buildings, which is expected to catapult the corporation into the league of the largest public service tour operators, says Mr. Lopez.

The travel itinerary of the corporation during summer also reveals that the jungle safari offered at locations in Idukki and Wayanad remains the most sought-after, followed by Munnar, Malakkappara, Nelliyampathy, Wagamon, and Gavi trips. 

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