Sep 5, 2008

Travel - North Kerala lures tourists with Home Stays

While the state has been struggling with tourist infrastructure, new plans are going to change that
Beaches, rivers, mountains, forests, ayurveda – though north Kerala has everything that brought 515,808 foreign tourists to this state last year, it received only six percent of them. The state’s six northernmost districts have a lack of infrastructure for tourists. But that is changing. In the hill district of Wayanad, individual entrepreneurs are putting up homestays – a perennial favourite with tourists.
“The district now has around 40 homestays. Most of them have come up in the last three years,” says K.V. Biju, the secretary of the Wayanad district tourism promotion council (DTPC).
The homestay option in Wayanad is still not widely known abroad. “Most of the tourists coming to Wayanad at present are IT professionals from Bangalore. Only five percent of total tourists are foreigners,” says Biju.
Wayanad district still needs around 600 more rooms to meet the demand at the peak tourist season.
Hills and forests are by no means the only attractions on offer in the Malabar region – as north Kerala is known.
In Kozhikode, Perincheri Mani along with 10 others is tapping the potential of river tourism. Mani takes tourists on a cruise up and down the picturesque Chaliyar river. Suhas N. and his friends started his tour operating venture Green Hunters last year. He has arranged about 30 package tours by now. “We have tie-ups with around 50 homestays and resorts in various parts of the state. Many of them are located in Wayanad,” he says.
“We also had a few corporate customers, who wanted to organise their get-togethers at resorts.”
The potential of beach tourism also remains largely untapped.
According to an official the attitude of the locals towards tourists has changed in a big way in north Kerala. “Nowadays, not many people stare at tourists. About 10 years ago this was not the case.”

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