New Delhi, Oct 6: Kerala reinforced its growing strength as an adventure tourism destination catering to young travellers with an eyeball-grabbing display at the first edition of the Bharat International Tourism Bazaar (BITB) here.
The tableau of a jungle safari complete with a Gypsy off-roader and a life-size replica elephant at the Kerala Tourism stall at the four-day travel show, which concluded at the Pragati Maidan today, provided a sneak peek into the little-explored regions of Kerala that promise adventure and thrills.
"The Kerala coastline and the backwaters are well-recognised and well-loved by travellers, but along our eastern border we have an equally fascinating, quite distinct topography in the Western Ghats mountain range," said Dr Venu V, Principal Secretary, Kerala Tourism. "It is a green expanse home to several protected sanctuaries, the source of most of our rivers and a region worth visiting for anyone who loves the great outdoors."
Adventure travel products that Kerala Tourism is looking to develop and promote in earnest include night camping, trekking, hiking and safaris in wildlife sanctuaries, cycling tours and water treks along rivers. The department already supports popular adventure competitions in paragliding, kayaking and mountain biking. For thrill-seekers, there are extreme adventure offerings like tandem parasailing, white-water rafting, zorbing and zip-lining at select destinations.
"We know that many young people looking to take a break from their stressful professional lives today equate travel with thrills and adrenalin rush, so our emphasis is on building Adventure Tourism infrastructure which leverages our many geographical advantages but also makes sure our tourism activity is eco-friendly and conservation-oriented," according to Kerala Tourism Director Shri U.V. Jose.
The BITB, a co-branded show of ITB Berlin, the world's largest travel trade event, provided a great platform for Kerala Tourism to introduce the adventure products. It attracted around 1,000 buyers from around the country and abroad, many of whom showed interest in the offerings from Kerala.
Mr D Balamurali, IAS, AD (G) & Managing Director of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, who led the state's promotional activities at the BITB said while Kerala has been successfully drawing family and leisure travellers, it intends to target larger numbers of young people.
"The adventure market in Kerala is just opening up, there is so much more we can do in this area. Activities such as mountain biking, jeep safaris, trekking and cycling are the products we are rolling out at this initial stage with plans to expand in the future."
He said Kerala Tourism's upcoming promotional strategy will target newer markets such as the Gulf nations and Russia and pitch new products such as Spice Route Muziris heritage circuit in earnest.
Travel trade shows, particularly the Kerala Travel Mart which concluded recently, have been great for marketing, he said, adding that Kerala is targeting to increase tourism revenues by another Rs 5,000 crores from the current Rs 26,000 crores.
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