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Tourism Development Plan Recommendations FROM ATTOI

Ground Floor | ‘Tower House’ | Convent Road Thiruvananthapuram - 695 001 | Kerala | India Phone: +91 471 2470660 | Fax: +91 471 2470660 E: | W:

ABOUT ATTOI Association of Tourism Trade Organisations, India (ATTOI) is the leading association of tour operators in south india. It has been established with an idea to create a platform for all tourism service providers to build business relationship among members and explore avenues as community in harnessing resources outside the normal gambit of individual resources. ATTOI's prime objective is to create awareness within India and overseas about the potentials of tourism in India. ATTOI is also here to bridge the gap between countries and instrumental in promoting tourist destinations abroad to the mass market within India. Equally important is our endevour in promoting eco tourism, responsible tourism, environment conservation and the unsaid ethical way of doing business. ATTOI's motto is "Integrity in Tourism." We would like to recommend few developmental priorities for the promotion of tourism in the state. The details of our recommendations are enclosed.

Office Bearers

Mr. Sreekumara Menon - President Mob: 9447798108 Mr. Anish Kumar P K - Secretary Mob: 9447051702 Mr. Chandrasenan - Treasurer Mob: 9847068488 Mr. V G Jayachandran - Vice President Mr. Zacharia George - Vice President Mr. Varghese Ommen - Joint Secretary Mr. Subhash Ghosh - Joint Secretary Mr. Benny Thomas - Executive Member Mr. John Thomas - Executive Member Mr. Shailesh Nair - Executive Member


INTRODUCTION Kerala emerged as a sought after destination in Asia. A planned tourism development is needed for the next 05 years for its sustainable growth. Association of Tourism Trade Organisations, India(ATTOI) has its members from the tourism trade actively involved in the tourism activities in Kerala. Every day we are dealing with many tourists both from international and domestic and the requirements of the tourists are many and we need to focus on areas where we need to improve for making Kerala an important destination in Asia.

INFRASTRUCTURE Development of Roads Next 05 years the priority should be given to road development as the free flow of vehicles is not possible in Kerala Roads. Majority of our international clients are from U.K, Germany, France, Italy , Australia and Scandinavian countries. In all these countries they have no single line traffic and they have atleast 02 lane roads. Whereas we have even in National Highways have Single line traffic and the number of road accidents in Kerala are on the rise due to narrow roads & poor condition of the roads. a) 45 Meter National Highway should be made available with in short span of time b) Instead of spending too much of money every year for maintaining and filling the poth holes, road development should be done at international standards. c) 80% of our roads doesn’t have proper drainage system. The longevity and frequency of rain in Kerala is high compared to any other Indian states and while making the roads proper elevation should be given to drain the water from the road . Most of the potholes formed in Kerala roads after the monsoon is mainly because of the water lodging on the roads. d) Every year before monsoon the blockages in the drainage system should be removed. e) Proper Signage’s to tourist destinations and to Airport and Railwaystations should be made available with distance in Kms Sustainable & Quality Tourism Kerala has been following Quality tourism policy thus attracting high end clients not giving much importance to quantity. But Last 05 years witnessed tremendous growth in domestic tourist arrivals and the number of service providers in this industry is on the rise. This resulted in the entrance of many unqualified service providers in Houseboats, Resorts, Tour Operators, Ayurveda Centers and the tourists who became victims of these unprofessional service providers would go back with bitter experience create bad image of Kerala. a) Accreditation & Classification of Service Providers: Kerala tourism is following the classication of Hotels, Ayurveda Centres, Homestays, Services Villas and Houseboats. Majority of the houseboats fleeying in the backwaters doesn’t have any govt licence. They recruit daily staff which are not trained or doesn’t have any qualification. b) Training: Recruitment of trained staff in Houseboat, ayurveda centres should be made mandatory. c) Human Resource: Kerala is depending heavily on work force from other states on every sector including Tourism. Lack of tourism professionals in the state is going to affect the quality of the product. KITTS should be developed to supply more tourism graduates for the industry. They should start more short term courses. d) Non availability of Guides: Even if you are ready to pay Rs.4000 per day, it is very difficult.

to get Language speaking guides. The non availability of French, German, Russian and Italian guides make it difficult to get tourists from non English speaking countries. Hartals and Strikes Tourism in the state grown to stage where Hartals and taxi strikes would not go hand in hand. According to the figures given by the tourism department there are around 70 lakhs of tourists visiting the state which means more than 73000 tourists fleeing on Kerala roads every day. A taxi strike or a Hartal will affect their right to travel to their respective destination. The negative impact of these strikes cannot be measured in terms of the financial loss alone. The bad image it brings to the state. There are many tour operators not promoting Kerala because of the frequent strikes and hartals. Many tour operators end up in loosing huge amounts as compensation for the tourists because of the problems faced by the tourists in Kerala. a) Exempt Tourist Vehicles from Hartals and Taxi strikes. b) Give much importance to Safty and security. Any mishapps on tourists will have negative impact on tourism. Issues and Constrains facing Human Resources in Tour Operators Sector The success of any industry depends to a great extend up on the quality of human resource and tourism is not an exception. Tourism is labor intensive industry, which provides employment to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers directly and indirectly. Some of the services required in the tourism and hotel industries are highly personalized, and no amount of automation can substitute for personal service providers The Role of Drivers Diversity of tourism products and its geographical positioning makes travel to access the destination. Tourist figures shows that Free Independent Travelers (FIT’s) are the major segment of people visiting Kerala. This segment creates demand for smaller vehicles for accessibility to the destinations. It is estimated that 80% of the tourists coming to Kerala are FIT’s generating employment for more than 5000 drivers per day. During the peak tourist season (December and January) the requirement of smaller vehicles and drivers are around 10000 per day. Even though their demand persists, the number of people choosing driving as their career is very less and many people doing this job for the last 06 years wanted to quit the job because of the occupational diseases. There are very limited facilities available for the drivers in the tourist destinations. Most of the hotels does not provide adequate accommodation for the drivers, where in the drivers are forced to sleep in the car. Back pain, lack of good sleep are some of the occupational diseases we found in them. An experienced driver quitting the job is a loss to the industry as he may be well versed in English Language, routes and expertise on handling the tourists. Mobilise more self Owned cars for the Tourism Industry As explained above there is huge demand for fleet of cars and it should be out sourced which will generate job for thousands of people. The Govt should announce a scheme for the people who are willing to take cars and work for the Accredited tour operators. This will attract the existing vehicle owners finding it difficult to get trips in the taxi stand as well as the people who have the money and does not know where to invest for business with reasonable return. This will full fill the huge industry requirements for fleets in the state.

Marketing Allocate Rs.200 crore in the Budget for the tourism promotion. New Source Markets Apart from the traditional source markets new source markets like Eastern Europe and Australia, where Kerala Tourism department should do more promotions. Connectivity It has been pointed out that Kerala has failed to tap the potential of inbound tourism due to non availability of direct flights European source markets. Tourists have to take flights via Gulf and it is very difficult to get seats on these flights. Many tourists are changing their itinerary to visit the state due to non availability of direct flights. Air India and the low cost carrier Air India Express should start direct flights to Europe and Australia from Airports in the state. If Air India Express can start a London – Male- Trivandrum flight, it will enable more tourists visiting the Maldives to take extended tour to Kerala and provide sufficient load for the carrier. KOVALAM DESTINATION DEVELOPMENT BEACH SHOWERS Every day hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists take dip in the three beaches of Kovalam. The tourists staying at far of hotels has to go with body full of wet salty water. The local tourists come for day excursion to kovalam also have no facility to wash off the salty water after they swim in the sea. We recommend to put 04 to 05 open beach showers on the three beaches of kovalam, so that the tourists can wash their body after they take bath in the sea. WATCH TOWER AND WALKY TALKY FOR LIFE GUARDS A watch tower and and walky talky to be provided to the life guards on the beach to prevent any mishaps due to under current in the ocean. NIGHTLIFE AT KOVALAM The Beach restaurents should be allowed to open till midnight 12 Am serving beer and hard liquor for the tourists, this will enhance the tourists to stay back which in turn will increase the number of stay. DANCE CENTRE AT KOVALAM In assocation with Kudumbasree an art centre should be open at Kovalam . Every day there would be daily show on “thiruvathira kali”, bharata natyam and fusion dances which will attract the tourists to spend their evenings at the Dance centre. CANAL TOURISM There is tremendous potential to develop the canals in the state for the purpose of inland navigations as well as tourism. Parvathy puthnar can be converted for this purpose with 05 kms of boating with open street restaurents on the sides of this canal.

ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN TOURISM DEVELOPMENT The role of government in the tourism industry is vital and very sensitive as it involves several policy decisions. In the past tourism development programs in the state has created a lot of critiques, as it lead to land and water body encroachments. It is high time that tourism land acquisition policy to be drafted with transparent and legally binding norms for constructions in the name of tourism development. It is found that most of such illegal constructions are made not by real tourism entrepreneurs, but people who have vested interests trying to use the term tourism development.. the new policy on land development for tourism sector must have a) The registered owners/investors of the property, must have a minimum experience of one year in tourism industry. b) Constructions in the tourism area must strictly follow CRZ , and also ensure that the new constructions will not damage the image of the destination c) There must an agreement between the investor and the dept of tourism, that the investor will be responsible if the constructions made by him/her is used for activities other than tourism, and also will be liable for maintaining the upkeep and beauty of the destination. QUALITY UPGRADATION AND MAINTANENCE One of the major problem Kerala Tourism is going to face in the coming years is ensuring quality tourism products and maintaining it. Only way to face the challenges from the re-emerging Srilanka tourism and the price war from South Aasian tourist destinations, is to offer better quality tourism products and competitive rates. At the moment we are struggling to maintain both the above factors. The Dept. of tourism must take stronger actions to ensure both quality and transparency in pricing in the industry. TOURISM MARKETING Tourism marketing in the recent years in Kerala state has been a several million rupees affair. The money pumped in to a few publications companies in Kerala has won several awards for its quality printing, but not reached the targets it was meant for. It is shocking to inform you that more than 90 % of the tourists who visited Kerala in the last few years have never come across such printed materials or they were influenced by such so called publicity. This is going on for several years ,as no one is responsible for the actual intention of such publicities. If the documents on spending is in order, finance dept will be happy. If there is a proper enquiry conducted, you can easily find out millions rupees are spend on publicity materials . In the recent years we have understood that even the communications to the dept of tourism also is managed by a private publishing company. We must change this scenario, more accountability and transparency must be brought in and advertisements and publicity must be created with the advice of an expert committee comprising tour operators and industry stake holders .It should not be left with a advertisement company’s copywriters..!! We must ensure that Kerala tourism ads and promotional campaigns reach the potential customers, not to aim at media awards for printing quality‌!!!

TOURISM INFORMATION CENTRES One of the best experience a traveler has when he or she visits major tourism centers in the world outside India is the simple and easily available information on various services a traveler needs. Kerala tourism runs several information centers, but mostly it doesn’t serve the purpose. Most of the time the staff is poorly prepared or trained to offer services. The counters don’t have a proper stock of the tourist map. No information available on transport or accommodation facilities. Normally they just direct the tourist to go out and check directly to the drivers and touts. If tourism dept can provide kiosks for stake holders organization the place to run such tourism centers, they can do it more effectively under the strict control of the dept. Tourism information centers also can be used for collecting data on tourist satisfaction on various services and products; this enable the industry to take necessary steps to ensure quality. Also customer surveys and complaints can be recorded through the counters. This is streamline the activities of touts and un approved elements in the industry. TOURISM POLICE The increasing economic activities and flow of visitors to our tourist destinations has made it important to have strong presence of Police. With that intention the the idea of Tourism Police in the state is started. Though the idea is very good and the intention was very clear, the expected results are not yet come. The selection of the tourism police officers and constables must be done with a lot more care. a) All constables selected must have atleast graduation b) Knowledge on communicative English is a must c) Must undergo training in tourist communication, behavior etc at KITTS d) Presence on the tourism police at selected areas must be watched and reported daily e) Tourism police staff should not be engaged in other duties. f) Uniforms for the tourism police should reflect friendliness and character g) Tourism police must be adequately trained to handle issues, ie loss of passport, other valuable items, molestation etc h) All tourist information centers must be having contact details of the concerned police official in their area. i) A senior police officer must be in charge of the tourism police. j) There must be a complaint redressal forum ,to deal with the issues and complaints related with tourism police activities in the state PRINT MATERIALS One of the major tool of a independent traveler is a road map connecting all major tourist centers, public facilities etc. Though Kerala tourism spends millions for printing and publicity ,no good maps are produced yet . Dept must initiate for the printing of good maps of Kerala and its tourist centers.

Guide books and pamphlets on museums, zoos, national parks etc must be printed and distributed through the information centers. CO-ORDINATION Tourism has become a mantra for everyone now. Even the various departments in our state has started their own ventures. KSEB, KFDC, are good examples. These departments do involve in tourism without any proper guidance and plan and end up in disastrous troubles. This must be stopped and a new legislation must be brought to go through the tourism department for any such programs by other depts.. Another major problem is various tourism projects coming under different depts. Don’t have any co ordination. In fact many of them don’t even follow a tourist friendly policy. Museums, Zoos, Art Galleries are under different depts., there must be a coordination committee which can regulate the training and tourist friendly practices. ON GOING PROGRAMS There were many initiative were taken by dept in the previous years, but many of them did not yield the desired results due to poor planning and execution. RECOGNITION OF TOUR OPERATORS IN KERALA It is a good idea to bring in certain regulations and control among stake holders. In that respect there was approval for recognized tour operators was formulated. However it did not show much response among tour operators in the state. We have pointed out the anomalies and mistakes in that program and send a letter to the then director of tourism and also contacted the then secretary of tourism. But as expected no response was received from them. For some reasons the previous officials were more keen on consulting everything related with tourism to a few people who claims to be representative of entire tourism and travel trade. Infact their inefficiency and petty minded advises killed such initiatives at its infancy. RECOGNITIONS AND AWARDS People with proven track records in achieving excellence should not be eliminated, when someone with selfish motives grabs the recognition. At present the selection method for tourism awards is by application. The real deserving people will not be at the doorstep to get the award. We must make the selection system more efficient and avoid the same faces sharing the awards in different categories (if they are not eligible, they will influence to create a new category for their benefit) We are sure that you already have an assessment of this issues, however we take this opportunity to express our concerns and expect you to do the needful to get things on the right track and lead Kerala tourism for a better future. * * *

Kerala Tourism Development Plan Recommendations by ATTOI