Kerala’s Fabulous Tourism Business Landscape

Kerala’s Fabulous Tourism Business

One look at Kerala and you will feel that God has been extremely considerate to the State. Bestowed with a mesmerising topography, it presents the best of hills, plains, rivers, lakes and idyllic coastlines. From serene backwaters to charming urban landscape, all are painted in multiple shades of green, a colour which represents the best of environment. The natural beauty of the State has been lauded by many renowned foreign publications, including National Geographic and Condé Nast Traveller. In a rapidly urbanising India, the rest of India comes to Kerala to savour the natural blend of ‘green’ and ‘concrete’. Surprisingly, this is at a time when ‘concrete’ seems to be clearly gaining an upper hand over ‘green’ in many parts of the world.

The business angle of tourism is also vibrant and compelling. A dollar spent in a sector begets a dollar or two in building the economy of the region. The multiplier effect is quite high when it comes to manufacturing; roughly $4.5 for every $1 spent on the economy. But for a tourism-conducive locale like Kerala, the multiplier effect in the sector is more than $8 for every dollar spent. This is because it is not just employment and ecosystem that tourism generates. Rather, it creates linkages as well around the entire business landscape.

Some other linkages are also too strong to ignore:

TRADITIONAL KERALA

The State is a veritable collage which functions as a melting pot of different cultures. Kochi showcases the best of Kerala where the ideal way to get a feel of culture and people is to savour the Onasadya. The delicious aroma of cooked rice and dishes wafts through the air where banana leaves, which serve as plates, are laid. Silver drops of water dancing on the surface of green leaves appear as small glittering islands. The best of Kerala is not a ‘see and go’ theatre rather it is a ‘stay and experience’ proposition!

ARTISTIC KERALA

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale has proved that Kerala has a universal culture breathing in it. The wide diaspora of Keralites working and living all over the world and the profound influence of the Dutch, Jews and the Portuguese have given an artistic identity, which not only finds resonance with the global tourist, but also offer a unique flavour that only Kerala, and that too Kochi, can claim. Within a short span of time since its inception, the Biennale has come to be rated as one of the best and has already found a place on the world tourism calendar.

EGALITARIAN KERALA

The Human Development Index (HDI) indicators of Kerala are not something to be scoffed at. The best states in India and many countries of the world will take a decade or so to match some of the HDI figures that Kerala boasts of. A society such as this will focus on development locally and show the world that ‘small and local’ could thrive. The conscious society is generally law abiding and is well aware of its duties and rights. An exemplary model of secularism and plurality, Kerala has a large number of religious institutions coexisting, where people of different castes and creed celebrate together. The local governance is also highly participative and inclusive, and provides last mile governance through a well networked web of panchayats and taluks.

CONNECTED KERALA

Kerala is among the states having the fastest growing mobile phone population in India and this prepares the ground for an unprecedented leap in e-commerce. The average time the young and old Keralite not just connecting but engaging in commercial activities using their phones is reaching astounding levels. Digital literacy is very high and slowly the digital infrastructure will grow to meet the demands. Every service provider includes Kochi as one of the priority cities while looking at potential markets.
With the right focus on building infrastructure and by ‘smartly’ aligning government policies, Kerala can literally say ‘sky is the limit.’

(The author is Director-Markets, Kerala & Tamil Nadu, EY and President, TiE Kerala)