A decade since adventure tourism (AT) activities gained popularity in Kerala, its has taken subtler forms in the State, where demand is more for cycling, camping, trekking, kayaking, and a slew of other day-time activities than for those which need higher endurance levels and training.
Even as caravan tourism is the latest product, a premium one at that, from the State, Kerala Tourism has given renewed emphasis to promoting AT, considering the post-pandemic demand for experiential tourism the world over. Nowhere is it more evident than at the 11 th edition of the ongoing Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) that will conclude on Sunday at Samudrika Convention Centre in Willingdon Island, where a whole lot of AT promoters are wooing international and national ‘buyers’ with alluring packages.
Among the forerunners in the field is Kalypso Adventures, which set foot in the State 22 years ago and went on to win the national AT award in 2017-18. It has been hosting short-duration AT activities pan-India, including cycling tours through the high ranges in Kerala, kayaking through the mangrove forests at Kadamakudy and bird watching. The firm’s managing director Cdr. (retd) Sam T. Samuel said there were innumerable companies that were into promoting day-time adventure activities, mostly confined to parks, which are not really AT activities like embarking on cycling tours for days together, kayaking and parasailing, which have a much wider scope.
“The State needs to understand the AT concept better. The situation has, however, changed from 22 years ago, when many people laughed at me as we ventured into the hitherto little explored sector in Kerala. It is a good place for soft adventures, unlike in the Himalayas and nearby areas which are apt for tougher activities like hiking, mountaineering etc. Kerala is a fantastic destination for cycling, kayaking on the backwaters, and birdwatching. The government ought to spread word on its potential for extended AT activities that last 10 or even 14 days, including for team building and leadership training for corporate groups,” he said.
The track record in safety and credibility matters a lot for firms in the sector.
“People are looking for niche products and personalised services, post-pandemic,” said Sebinster Francis, managing director of Munnar-based Route 4.9 Adventures. “The demand has thus increased for bicycling and tented camps, and there is a camping boom [a form of adventure activity] in hill stations. Guests leave with the contentment that they pushed their limits and engaged in adventure activity, rather than just sightseeing. They get the thrill of doing what is seemingly impossible, like paragliding and rappelling,” he said.
Tourism sources said District Tourism Promotion Councils (DTPCs) are the apt bodies to identify and promote AT activities in different districts. The government and its agencies give whatever help is required.