Kerala to promote nightlife to woo young tourists

Kerala’s tourism warrants renewed approach that promotes customised service as well as night life besides technology and packages that are updated with times so as to win back young visitors to the state, experts said today.

Digital media and even artificial intelligence are proving to be key requirements for tourism promotion to get newer audiences across the globe and God’s Own Country can’t be an exception, speakers told a seminar at the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) in Kochi.

All the same, “over-tourism” should not disturb the normal routine of the hosts even as Kerala should explore the scope of non-conventional hospitality such as homestay and bread-and-breakfast, they noted at ‘Changing Trends in Travel and Tourism’ organised as part of the September 27-30 KTM that aims to boost the state’s tourism prospects.

Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Tourism, highlighted ‘commoditisation’ as an urgent requirement of tourism in Kerala. “Select a niche area and curate it well. Be prompt with your service; speed matters,” said the senior bureaucrat, formerly a director and secretary of Kerala Tourism. “Also ensure your package has elements of some luxury, which most visitors seek to enjoy alongside their travel. Kerala must keep exploring new travellers, given that tourists generally don’t revisit spots. There is scope for collaborative work on this matter,” he said.

The other speakers at the 90-minute session were Cherian Philip, who heads the Nava Kerala mission aimed at rebuilding Kerala after last month’s floods, and Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran, besides travel entrepreneurs P K Anish Kumar and Sejoe Jose and KTM President Baby Mathew. Hotelier Riaz Ahmed, former KTM president, was the moderator.

Cherian Philip, former chairman of KTDC, said absence of a night life has been a constant complaint from tourists in Kerala. “Even a place like Dubai with its conservative ethos today has its people enjoying their time in various ways after sunset,” he noted, while also stressing on waste management. “Unless we go for such entertainment that doesn’t harm our culture, Kerala’s tourism has no future. Goa and even Chennai may overtake us, not to speak of Sri Lanka or Singapore outside India.”

Bala Kiran said tourists of late are less patient to read details and know about a place. “We must serve them with digital technology. Also we must include more focal spots on the itinerary. Malabar (northern Kerala), for instance, has a lot of potential,” he said.

Anish Kumar suggested added focus on social media publicity, while Sejoe Jose spoke of the increasing role of mobile phones in tourism.