The two week long road journey called “Kerala Blog Express” for selected bloggers from around the world to begin on March 1. The road journey will start from south to the north of Kerala on a branded luxury bus that carries 25 bloggers selected through an online voting created by Kerala Tourism.
Kerala Blog Express will travel through destinations like Alappuzha, Kovalam, Varkala, Kumarakom, Thekkady, Munnar, Wayanad, Kochi and Bekal during the two-week journey. The selected bloggers will also be able to participate in activities like boating in the backwaters, experience Ayurvedic treatment, and watch Kathakali performances, besides giving bath to the state’s famous captive elephants.
Entries from as many as 80 countries, including US, UK, Poland, Spain, Germany, Canada and Indonesia had been received. Some of the contestants participating in the race for the 25 seats have already featured in National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveller and Lonely Planet. The participants who have their own blogs like travel writers, photographers and bloggers are eligible to enter the selection. The registration for ‘Kerala Blog Express’ journey had ended on January 10. Profiles of participants are available on Kerala Blog Express website for voting by the general public.
While then, the Kerala Tourism website has won the national tourism award for the 6th time for ‘most innovative use of information technology’ for 2012-13. The website was rated best among travel websites from India.
Kerala is famous as a leisure destination for tourists around the world. In the recent times there is a sharp increase in the number of visitors who come for Ayurveda treatment. Apart from Ayurveda, the state is set to develop adventure and heritage spots in order to broaden the tourism scene to create more inflow of tourists.
The state at present aims at leisure tourists who come to Kerala for Ayurvedic treatments. It is believed that the Muziris Heritage site and the Spice Route revival project can attract tourists all round the year. The addition of new destinations is expected to bring in 10% increase in tourist arrivals this year. In 2013, the total revenue from tourism had crossed Rs.21, 000 crore.
The Muziris in the east of Kerala was once the greatest trading ports of the old days where Arabs, Chinese, Jews, Romans, Portuguese and Dutch came to trade. The upgrading of heritage tourism plans will showcase Muziris Heritage through more than 25 museums. 11 museums are ready to open to the public by the end of February.
Kerala has plans to introduce sea-plane project which aims at improving connectivity by air to destinations across the state. Through the idea of Spice route, the state plans to connect with 31 countries in Europe, Asia and Far East by creating a new experience. The project has garnered support from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). A conference is planned in this regard by the end of this financial year. The representatives of 31 countries will participate and discuss on how to take things forward.
Kerala Tourism bags the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance. The award has made Kerala the first Indian state to win the UN award. It is considered to be the top UN Award for global leadership in creating innovative initiatives through Responsible Tourism. The award was presented on January 22 at a ceremony held at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR), in Madrid, Spain.
Kerala was awarded for its innovative ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom. The project had successfully linked the local community with the hospitality industry and government departments. This in turn has created a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.
The Kumarakom model initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March 2013 and also, the PATA Grand Award for Environment. At the awards ceremony, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said, “Kerala, a popular ecotourism destination, portrays responsible and sustainable tourism in an exceptional manner”. “The recognition Kerala received is a great step towards creating a better understanding among other destinations”, He added. Taleb Rifai wished “continued success” for Kerala Tourism!
In 2013, the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism had won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for its Homestay Experience Programme.
Kerala Forest Department introduces a new system to bring transparency in issuing tickets for various tourism packages at Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR). Under the new plans, the boating facility comes on top.
The new system makes it possible to check the tickets of every individual by verifying the identity cards at various points. This is the first time to introduce such a system in the state. There is also a plan to bring the boat landing centre and other important areas under camera surveillance by installing 14 cameras.
The camera facility may be introduced in Periyar Tiger Reserve by February second week. After that every ticket issued will have a bar code. This allows only genuine ticket holders to enter the gate. The PTR Package normally includes 10 trips which many tourists do not utilise. The new system helps the authorities to let know of any misuse of packages not utilised by the genuine tourists. What otherwise happens is, the agents sell it at higher price to other tourists. This affects the revenue of the Forest Department as the money is usurped by the agents.
The screenings of tourists start from the entry check post through which the vehicle passes into the PTR boat landing centre. The PTR is planning to introduce the camera facility by February second week after which each ticket will have bar coding. This enables only genuine ticket holders to enter the gate. Only 25% of the total tickets are offered online while the remaining is sold through the counters at the boat landing centre in Thekkady. A total of around 3,000 tourists are able to do boating on a day in the boats operated by the Forest Department and the KTDC.
To attract more tourists to the centre, the PTR also have plans to set up kiosks to avail tickets at 10 centres in the state. Three centres will be in Kumily, one in Munnar and the remaining in Kumarakam, Kottayam, Nedumbassery airport and other such places.
Kerala Tourism Partnership meets for the year 2014 are scheduled in the tier 1 cities of India. According to the schedule, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkota, Hyderabad are cities to hold Partnership Meets from 7th January to 25th February.
The partnership meets are to offer tourism industry members an effective B2B platform to establish potential markets for Kerala. Various businesses include, travel and Hospitality Trade from Kerala including Hoteliers, Tour operators, House boat operators, Home stays and Ayurveda centres. The businessmen from Kerala meet tour operators & travel agents in selected cities in India. It is a full day business event which envisages the promotion of Kerala Tourism via public private-partnership and enables buyers from target cities to understand and explore Kerala. The partnership meets include business sessions, screening of films on destinations and products, interactive sessions, media interaction and cultural programmes.
Kerala Tourism will be inviting the tour operators and travel agents of the source market to the Partnership Meets to attend as buyers. So, this is indeed a great opportunity for Kerala tour operators aiming tourists from across India.
Photo Courtesy: Keralatourism.org
The Monsoon in Kerala has ceased and, it is the time to celebrate your holidays and special occasions on Kerala Beaches and backwaters. At present there are two beach festivals happening in Kerala. One is at Cherai Beach in Ernakulam and another is at Munakkal beach, Thrissur.
Cherai Beach Tourism Fest 2013
The Cherai Beach Tourism Fest is celebrating its 13th anniversary this year. Every year the beach fest is a celebration of the local temple arts, folklores and the extinguishing traditional classical art form – Chavittunadakam.
The Cherai beach fest falls on the last week of December every year and this incorporates Christmas and New Year celebration. The fest started on 22 December and ends by 31 with the New Year. Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan inaugurated the tourism mela on 22 December. The ten days Cultural celebration exhibits a variety of activities by local and national artists.
Muzris Beach Fest 2013
It is said that Muzris, a coastal village in Thrissur district of Kerala was once the “Gateway of India”! The Muzris Beach Fest that happens now is yet another chance to rewind the memories of that great past. Muzris town was once a shining abode for world tourists and businesses until the disastrous 1341 flood washed away even the footprints of this great town.
The Muzris Beach fest is held on the famous Azhikode-Munakkal Beach from 27 to 31 December 2013. This is 8th beach fest held on the Munakkal Beach. It is held in association with Kerala Tourism Department, Eriyad Panchayath and Azhikode-Munakkal Muzris Destination Management Council. During the fest, there will be an array of colourful events like Helicopter Ride, Kite flying, adventure tourism programmes, Cultural activities by International artists, sea cruises, a rain of colours, beach race, food fest, carnivals and processions. The five day fest will have a day full of activities that lasts until midnight. One of the major attractions of the fest is that one can enjoy a ride on a horse or Camel.
The nearest towns of Azhikode are Kodungallur and Paravoor. The Munakkal beach in Azhikode has got the vast shore stretch around 3 km along the main beach side. It is the main attraction of this village. The main activity of the villagers here is fishing.
Both these beach festivals are sure to add more merry and excitement to the holidays of the tourists and the local people here.
Thanks to smart card. You can now bid adieu to the nightmare of the high pitched yelling and scary stares of the bus conductors against you for not extending the correct change in city buses in Kerala. Most of the conductors hesitate to give back the change to commuters , which often lead to heated arguments and even fist fights. The smart card swipe option to travel in city buses would relieve the passengers from the hassles of always carrying change.
The success of the city on wheels project has prompted the district administration to extend the project to all private buses in future. This would make Ernakulam the first district , to issue tickets in all private buses by way of smart cards. At present 100 buses have been brought under this scheme in various routes like Vytila-vytila, Kakkanad, Aluva, Eroor, Tripunithura and Poothotta .
The inspiration for the city on wheels idea was the overwhelming success of the survey conducted by Technovia infosolutions , Kochi. The survey highlighted the problem faced by the passengers owing to the reluctance of the conductors to return the balance amount of the ticket fare. If the smart card concept becomes popular , we can hope that the city travel will become a much more enjoyable and hassle free affair for the passengers.
Water bus, the new boat service in the Vyttila-Kakkanad sector was inaugurated a couple of days back by the Union Minister K V Thomas. Water Bus, operated by the Kerala State Water Transport Department, set off on its maiden trip from the newly built jetty near the Vytilla Mobility Hub. The boat has the capacity to carry 8 bikes and 50 passengers.
The service will be a boon for those who work in Kakkanad /Infopark as the timings are fixed in such a way that it suits the office goers. The boat will reach the jetty, near InfoPark, in 30 minutes whereas the buses take around 45 minutes.The fare from Vyttila-Kakkanad trip is fixed at Rs. 8 and there will be seven daily services, the first in the morning being at 9.30 am.
The boat service is expected to take off a considerable load from the choked roads leading to Kakkanad. Boat service is way cheaper and faster alternative to the crowded buses that ply in this route. “Proper boat jetties with ample parking space must be built on the way to Kakkanad. SWTD must also recruit 15 crew members to man the sister vessel that is ready to operate in hub-Kakkanad sector,” said Benny Behanan, MLA.
“Our aim is to introduce catamaran-type fibre-reinforced-plastic boats, which are delivered within a few months of the order being placed. Being lighter and faster than steel boats, they can cover the Vyttila-Kakkanad distance in 12 minutes,” Elias George, MD of KMRL and Chairman of Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA). said.
Inland navigation, which can make travelling within Kerala a lot more faster and congestion free holds a tremendous potential and Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) has drawn up a Rs 40-crore project for the purpose. There are many viable water routes that can be explored and developed like for instance the Kollam-Kottapuram National Waterway III can make a potential cargo transportation route whereas a boat service from Poothotta to Cochin city will go a long way in decongesting the city during peak morning hours as buses take around 90 minutes to cover a distance of just 22 Km due to the pitiable condition of the roads and traffic bottle necks!
Photo Courtesy: RouteCochin.com
Better known as papanasam beach,Varkala beach is the only one of its type in southern Kerala that has rocky cliffs jutting right into the sea, which makes it dramatically beautiful. The bright hued sand and the ancient Janardanaswamy temple nearby adds up to the charm of this quiet and isolated sandy beach .
The online travel meta search engine of Trivago says that Varkala is one among the five affordable Indian tourist destinations and is in the 28th position in the world list of tourist destinations that can visited on a budget. Munnar is the other destination in Kerala that occupies the 60th position in the chart. The other Indian destinations include Nashik at the 21st position, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan at 41st and Alibaug in Maharashtra at the 56th position.
The ‘Best Value Index’ is calculated based on various factors including the yearly average overnight price of a standard double room and overall hotel reputation from over 82 million traveller reviews. The spots thus chosen will be world’s best in terms of delivering the best value for your money.
Nashik, which tops the list of affordable Indian destinations this year offers a night’s stay at Rs 5,665.
Morocco’s Ait Benhaddou was voted as the first among the top 100 ‘Best Value Index’ destinations in the world where an overnight stay in a standard double room in the city can cost a visitor an average Rs 3,551.
The price-comparison website of Trivago has a monthly user base of 18 million people over its 30 international platforms. The index has been compiled according to the reviews and preferences of the users of the search engine.
Varkala beach, located between Alappuzha and Kovalam in a photographer’s delight as it offers the most spectacular sunsets at the backtrop of the towering rocky cliffs and swaying palm trees.
So in case you are planning a memorable holiday experience that wont leave a hole in your wallet, then head straight to Varkala. Apart from a beach holiday it will also offer you the best of ayurveda and spiritual experience.