Kerala promoting Ayurveda to attract tourists

Sanu George

Thiruvananthapuram, May 4:

With the balmy winter long over, Kerala’s tourism industry is gearing up for the monsoons, pitching its famous Ayurveda treatment that works best during the rains. Since beaches and backwaters are not the focal points of interests in the summer months, the tourism sector is busy devising special rejuvenation Ayurveda packages ranging from a week to three weeks. Jose Dominic of the CGH Earth, a leading resort group in the high value segment, said ayurveda and Kerala were synonymous with each other. He said he was expecting a

rush in the monsoon months of June and July when Ayurveda is most effective. “We are offering various packages that include complete rejuvenation therapies as well as a beauty package for skin ailments. As soon as the tourist arrives, he is examined by our team of Ayurveda doctors who prescribe the mode and length of the treatment,” Dominic said.

Of course, it all comes at a price. The starting price for the all-inclusive packages is $780, said Dominic.Interestingly, these high-end resorts are targeting the domestic tourist and not so much the foreigner, who prefers to holiday in Europe or Britain during the spring and summer.

“One reason for this is that in Europe the spring season is commencing. Only the really interested foreign tourist arrives in Kerala for the rejuvenation packages,” said Dominic.

The flipside of this boom are the quacks promising Ayurveda massages and special treatments that flourish near prominent tourist locations. Tourism minister P Sankaran said the government was aware of the problem.“Yes, we will concentrate on preventing quacks who make a fortune during the season. Even though this can be done only through legislation, we will keep our eyes wide open to prevent any sort of exploitation by quacks.”

The industry is also worried about competition from neighbouring Sri Lanka. With the island nation opening up to tourism in a big way and with Indian domestic airlines flying to Sri Lanka, Kerala could end up playing second fiddle if it doesn’t think about attractive promotions.

Despite all its advantages, Kerala is now the most expensive destination to reach. It is cheaper to fly from New Delhi to Colombo than to Kerala, Dominic pointed out. Sankaran acknowledges the fears of the industry. “We are expecting that our talks with foreign airlines will be fruitful and we can offer competitive packages to promote Ayurveda,” he said.

Tourist season in Kerala begins in mid November, peaks in the last week of December and tapers off by mid-March. With special promotions like Ayurveda, however, the effort is to prolong the season throughout the year.