With domestic tourism in India experiencing a strong growth, driven by a burgeoning middle class, Kerala Tourism has shifted its marketing strategy, focussing more on the local than the foreign travellers.’We have not cut down spending on our international markets, but more funds have been allotted to nurture the domestic market. The department has also forged more tie-ups with national intermediaries- tour operators- to draw greater number of domestic travellers to the state,’ sadi Venu V., tourism secretary, Kerala. The domestic footfall to the state across every segment of tourists touched 75 lakh in 2008-2009 up from 66.42 lakh in the previous year, estimates compiled by the Kerala Tourism reveal.
‘If the marketing budget of Kerala Tourism since 2006- 2007 is examined, the focus initially was more on international marketsprimarily the European markets of Britain, Germany and France. ‘However today, Kerala tourism is tapping the potential of the domestic market which is witnessing vigorous movement. Earlier, the movement of domestic tourist to the state was localised – mostly from Gujarat from Mumbai; but now tourists are pouring in from all over the country,’ he said. Outlining the change in the promotion strategy, the tourism secretary said his department is hosting road shows across the country to exploit the potential of the domestic market.
Kerala Tourism is also changing the product profile. ‘The emphasis is more on cultivating the tiny and the small hospitality sector. It includes homestays, guest houses and smaller hotels. We are trying to make every corner of the state which has something of tourists’ interest accessible to tourists.’ ‘Big hotels cannot set up infrastructure in smaller and remote destinations because of high costs. Homestays and budget hotels fill the gap with quality accommodation and intimate experiences,’ Venu V. said. He cited the example of Wayanad which does not have a single big luxury property. ‘Wayanad is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state but it depends on homestays, guest houses and service villas.’ Responsible tourism is another area that is on the state government’s priority list.