Continuing my India trip observations, the next set of observations relates to the tourist industry, primarily in Kerala. Parameters surrounding my observations are documented in this initial posting.
- Our experience with the tour operators of Kerala was exceptional. We found a Kerala tour operator/travel agent while still in the US who arranged for our 6 day stay in four different locations in Kerala- Cochin, Alleppey, Kovalum, and Trivandrum. She planned everything meticulously and truly exemplified service.
- In Cochin, we stayed in a home-stay, a growing tourist concept in Kerala; basically a home where each room is rented to guests who are served meals together; similar to a bed and breakfast. In Kerala, this concept adds to the tourist experience since Kerala has a diverse tourist pool, tourists throughout parts of Europe, Americans, domestic and NRI Indians, as well as Japanese tourists. I really enjoyed dinner conversations with other tourists from Tibet, Ireland, US, and Germany.
- In Alleppey, exceptional service was again exemplified by the house boat manager. He gave a vivid history and description of the area and even had us meet his family, wife, mother, brother, sister in law and even niece. It clearly felt like genuine service and I certainly would recommend his service to others.
- The backwaters of Alleppey are truly a memorable tourist experience. Coconut, banana, and rubber trees surround you on both sides of your house boat along with villagers working on the adjacent rice paddies. Being able to see images of locals commuting to work in canoes amidst the houseboats and greenery while also seeing other daily life images of hanging clothes, taking care of children, and other routine interactions is what makes this experience truly unique.
- An additional unique experience of Kerala is observing the ocean side fishing techniques seen across the beaches of Kerala. Traditional practices continue today and one will see a variety of local clothing, boats, and language while watching the fisherman in action. Here is some video I took at Kovalum Beach:
- I did notice that the Mumbai terror attacks did impact the number of tourists in Kerala. The house boat manager in Alleppey indicated that two large 100 person Japanese tourist groups cancelled their trips to Kerala due to concerns over safety after the terror attacks. In Cochin, Kashmiri shop operators who sold rugs and other handicrafts described noticeable drop offs in sales volume and tourist traffic.
- We met an ayurvedic doctor in Kerala and learned that a medical service such as an ultrasound or MRI would be a bargain compared to the US, without weeks of wait for scheduling or availability. I can clearly see how the medical tourism industry in India is prospering.
Here are links to each of the individual India trip observation postings
- India trip observations- IT Industry