Kerala

Kerala adventure tourism: Move over houseboats, the kayaks are here

Big hit: Kayaking under way in Ernakulam.  

Activity-based tourism is set to create waves in Kerala, with the State’s Department of Tourism focused on promoting two core sectors — adventure tourism and ‘Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition’ or MICE tourism this year.

The aim is to woo visitors back to Kerala, after the August 2018 deluge dealt a devastating blow to the tourism industry.

“We plan aggressive marketing of adventure tourism (AT) in 2019, as part of our ‘experiential tourism package’. This will be in a largely rural settings, so that the local community too stands to benefit. It will also further the cause of Kerala’s globally-acclaimed Responsible Tourism (RT) initiative,” explained Rani George, Secretary of Kerala Tourism.

Experiential tourism is a global buzzword today, aimed at attracting discerning tourists who care for the community and leave a minimal carbon footprint. In RT, hoteliers and other stakeholders source vegetables and other produce from the local community, while tourists are taken on tours of households to see and savour anything from ethnic food to weaving of coconut fronds and traditional coir-making.

This apart, water bodies and hills that abound in the State provide the right setting for activity and adventure tourism. Private operators are already engaged in AT in Wayanad and Idukki in the Western Ghats. While scuba diving is becoming popular in Kovalam beach, cycle trails are a hit in hilly terrain, Ms. George said.

Everybody’s into it

Kayaking has taken off in a big way in extensive backwaters and inland waterways of Kerala hitherto the privileged haunt of houseboats. The initiative came from Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) a month ago, with children rowing alongside world champions in an introduction to the water sport.

It began with Muziris Paddle, a kayaking and stand-up-paddling (SUP) event in Kochi targeting tourists and adventure seekers in the 40 km route from Kochi to the Muziris heritage locale. The participants included Shilpika Gautam, world record holder for paddling down the entire Ganga, international paddler Jim Bush from Australia and Cedric Reynard, renowned SUP trainer from Switzerland.

Elaborating on how kayaking has become a fad in Kochi, Joseph Dileesh, manager of Scuba Coaching, a firm that imparts training in AT activities, said the kayaks, shipped in from New Zealand, have been deployed in the Goshree backwaters. “They do not flip over, even if they encounter tides. About 95% of children and others who partake in the event do not know swimming but participants get the balance in 10 minutes,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 4:16:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-adventure-tourism-move-over-houseboats-the-kayaks-are-here/article26038442.ece

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