Kerala Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas today said caravan parks coming up across the state as part of “Keravan Kerala” project will be located in natural settings, giving top priority to tourists’ safety and security and hygienic features.
“What makes Kerala’s Caravan Tourism policy different from others is that it is more responsible and more committed to local communities. The policy has laid the greatest emphases on the safety and security of tourists and sustainable use of local resources in creating caravan parks,” Riyas said.
The stakeholder-friendly Caravan Tourism policy, announced last month, also opens up possibility of turning accessible but unexplored places in the state into alluring destinations for the caravan travellers to park and stay. The initiative is designed to make tourism a sustainable activity that would bring benefits to local communities and also scale up opportunities for the industry.
The minister said tourist caravans will be comfortable, fully regulation-compliant and safe. Likewise, the caravan parks will also be the most secure places that would not upset the natural and cultural settings of the locale, he noted.
“There will not be any garish constructions, leaving the place as natural as possible. Each Caravan Park will have a sewage treatment plant. The basic theme of the project is to club the luxury of caravan with the natural look of the park,” he said.
The experiential potential of caravan tourism is enormous as visitors can savour the village life experience in a place where they are halting. Whether it is a village with swathes of paddy field, a fishermen’s hamlet or a hub of traditional industry or craft, they can have a close look at the daily chores of the community.
The experiential feature, directly linked to Kerala’s successful Responsible Tourism (RT) initiative, has the potential to generate employment and commercial opportunities for local communities, local self-government institutions, small and micro enterprises, artists and collective endeavours of women like Kudumbashree.
As “Keravan Kerala” is set to emerge as a major segment of Kerala Tourism, the policy provides attractive incentives, including investment subsidy for purchase of caravan vehicles.
Leading tour operators said they have been getting enthusiastic and positive feedbacks from their counterparts from within the country and outside with regard to caravan tourism in Kerala.
Abraham George, Managing Director of Intersight Tours and Travels, said his company would design hybrid packages by including caravan tourism, which would attract visitors to lesser known destinations.
“We believe there will be a good demand for caravans as the recent trend shows that most of the tourists are coming as couples or families and they want to go to less crowded places. It will be a big hit with honeymooners because of the privacy and security offered by caravans,” he said, adding: “Kerala is already a favourite destination for newly-married couples.”
Riyaz U C, Managing Director, Spiceland Holidays, said caravan tourism will be packaged as a standalone product as well as a hybrid package. “In the hybrid model, caravan tourism will be included as a two-day activity. Eventually, we will explore the possibilities of introducing a hop-on and hop-off model to reduce cost. The introduction of caravan tourism at this juncture will give a much-needed fillip to tourism in the state which is yet to fully recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic.”
The tourism caravans will have all the facilities for a comfortable stay such as sofa-cum-bed, kitchenette with fridge and microwave oven, dining table, toilet cubicle, partition behind the driver, air-conditioner, internet connectivity, audio-video facilities, charging system and GPS.
The policy has laid down clear guidelines for setting up Caravan Parks, which can be developed in the private sector, public sector or joint sector. The configuration of parks will vary from location to location, though the fundamental attributes remain the same.
They will be operational 24×7 during the tourist season, or on demand, and connected with fair-weather roads from the main road. They will be provided all trading licences from competent authorities for fire and pollution compliance, electricity, water and sewage connections and public liability insurance.
A caravan park will be a completely safe and secure zone offering hassle-free and stress-free environment to tourists, protected with necessary features like proper fencing, adequate security and safety arrangements, patrolling and surveillance cameras. The policy envisages that comfort rooms for drivers is compulsory in every caravan park and as soon as the caravan enters the park, the driver will hand over the vehicle’s key to park management and leave to comfort rooms arranged exclusively for them.
The parks in hilly and ecologically fragile areas will have to incorporate creative architecture in conformity with local heritage. Caravan Parks can also be set up in plantations, properties of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) and local self-government institutions.