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How Kerala is wooing tourists from Middle East, Russia

Last updated on: May 7, 2013 14:54 IST

How Kerala is wooing tourists from Middle East, Russia

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Buoyed by the growing popularity of its 'Age Halt' programme that provides Ayurveda treatment on the go, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation is all set to woo tourists in a big way, especially from the Middle East and Russia, during the monsoon season.

Tourists are coming mostly from Germany, Britain, Russia and France, but KTDC is keen to enter the Gulf countries in a substantial manner.

"We have organised special road shows in the Gulf last year, and the Arabs are now coming to Kerala for the treatment of lifestyle diseases," KTDC Managing Director N Prashant said.

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Image: A tourist receives a massage.
Photographs: Peter Morgan/Reuters

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"The Arabs are tempted by the sight of rainfall. If we combine it with the Ayurvedic therapy, it will be a big opportunity for Kerala to leverage its traditional medicine system as a strong wellness quotient during the monsoon," he noted.

Ayurveda, as a tourism product, has great prospects in the Middle East, Australia and Russia, besides traditional markets in Germany, Kerala Tourism Director Rani George said.

The state tourism has already started a new campaign 'Kerala - The Home of Ayurveda' to promote Ayurveda in domestic as well as international markets.

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Image: A masseur gives a woman a massage.
Photographs: Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

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"We are planning to launch a media blitzkrieg and outdoor hoardings in the Middle East early next month to promote Ayurveda tourism. In fact, we plan to target the entire Middle East to promote our tourist season from June to September which is the holiday season there," she said.

"Our Age Halt programme, launched last year, has sparked huge interest among the tourists both in India and abroad. It is a unique product that seamlessly combines Ayurvedic treatment and travel," said Prashant.

The programme provides exclusive Ayurveda packages through its premium properties such as Samudra (Kovalam), Bolgatty Palace, Bolgatty Island Resort and Marina House (Kochi), Tea County (Munnar), Lake Palace and Aranya Nivas (Thekkady) and Periyar House, inside the Periyar Sanctuary.

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Image: A woman relaxes in a spa.
Photographs: Ho New/Reuters

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"A tourist may be confined to one location for 10-15 days while the Ayurvedic treatment is on, forcing the tourist to forego the recreational aspect of travel. Age Halt is a combination of both recreation and treatment. A tourist who opts for a rejuvenation package at one place can move to other properties of KTDC without any interruption under continuous medical supervision," he said.

KTDC has 72 properties, including nine premium ones - the largest in the country. It has tied up with Santhigiri Ashram at some properties for providing Ayurvedic therapy. The duration of the packages ranges from 1 to 21 days and the tariff varies from Rs 1,900 to Rs 192,500.

"People are loving the programme. This is our USP and no one can replicate it because we have the largest number of properties. Besides, we have the first mover advantage. Also, it is in the government sector that ensures safety, reliability and quality," he said.

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Image: A typical houseboat in the Kerala backwaters near Alleppey,
Photographs: Wesley Olson/Wikimedia Commons

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Kerala is also pinning hopes on domestic tourists to sustain its monsoon tourism. "We can't afford to ignore domestic tourists. Monsoon months are a vacation time in the northern states, and Kerala gives a relatively cheaper option to people from these states to avail Ayurveda therapy while on the move," Prasanth said, adding KTDC would soon launch a monsoon package, including Ayurveda and indoor games.

KTDC is setting up a drive-in beach resort at Muzhappilangad beach in Kannur district, which will be the largest in Asia."This will be yet another KTDC's premium property with facilities of Ayurveda therapy."

Overall, Kerala recorded arrival of 790,000 international tourists and 1 crore domestic tourists last year.

"Kerala's monsoon tourism and Ayurveda are now drawing an increasing number of tourists. We need to ramp up Ayurveda's profile and leverage it aggressively to bring more tourists from new markets," Prasanth said.


Image: Tourists enjoy the sunset at Kovalam beach in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
Photographs: Dipak Kumar/Reuters

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