North Malabar in Kerala is comparable to any tourist destination in the world when it comes to unblemished natural beauty, rich ritual art, mouthwatering cuisine, and historic buildings. But the sad part is that only a few tourists coming to Kerala have the districts of Kannur and Kasaragod on their itinerary. In an effort to entice travelers north of Malabar, the region is preparing to host a tourism festival. Serious efforts are made to offer tourism packages that offer exemplary facilities to travelers at affordable rates. The tours for Kannur are drawn in chalk along the lines of the AirAsia tour which carried tourists to Singapore and Malaysia.

The idea was put forward by a WhatsApp group under the name of “Team Historical Flight Journey”, which had tirelessly supported the development of Kannur Airport. The “Team Historical Flight Journey” group includes people who traveled to Abu Dhabi on the inaugural flight from Kannur Airport on December 9, 2018. Tourism festival organizers hope that quality and cost-effective sightseeing packages can be achieved. proposed if all players in the tourism industry are grouped under one roof.

Kannur International Airport can grow exponentially if its passenger numbers are significantly improved. A 10% increase in the number of domestic travelers passing through Kannur Airport is expected if organized trips to northern Malabar are up for grabs. The increase in the number of domestic passengers would work as a catalyst for airlines to operate more services to Kannur Airport. The increase in the number of passengers would also bode well for obtaining “stopover” status for the airport in the future.

Plans are on the anvil to organize package tours allowing residents of Kannur, Kasaragod, Wayanad and Kozhikode districts to travel to other towns and tourist destinations in the country via Kannur Airport.

Initiative supported by 30 organizations
The Kannur Development Forum, which brings together nearly 30 groups, including the North Malabar Chamber of Commerce, Disha, Kerala Chamber and Industries, Kannur Press Club, Textile Export Organization, WAKE (Association for the welfare of Kannur expatriates), Positive Union, independent travel agents. , Kerala, is the spearhead of the initiative known as “Destination Kannur”. The State Department of Tourism and KIAL (Kannur International Airport Limited) also provided support for this ambitious project.

Tourist packages will be available from March 15 to May 15, 2022. The website www.destinationkannur.com was launched by State Minister of Excise MV Govindan the other day to access the packages.

Efforts are being made to bring together travel agencies, hotel and restaurant associations, the Association of Accommodation Providers, the Houseboat Owners Association, homestays and resorts on one common platform, said Kannur Development Forum co-chair C Jayachandran. Deputy Director of Tourism Prasanth Vasudev notes that 10 tour operators in the district have been awarded the official partner label of the “Destination Kannur” tourism festival. The selected tour operators were tasked with developing 10 packages that offer travelers the opportunity to taste ‘Theyya Kavu’, beaches, mountains, Kannur cuisine, rivers, traditional rituals and historical monuments, adds the manager. deputy.

Besides the 10 sightseeing packages under the ‘Destination Kannur’ initiative, tourists can also contact travel agencies to avail unique daily packages which also guarantee delicious varieties of local cuisines. Organizers hope the two-month festival would catapult northern Malabar to a prominent position on the global tourism map.

North Malabar will welcome more than 500 tour operators
More than 500 international tour operators, who will come to northern Malabar, will be made aware of the region’s immense tourism potential, says the additional chief secretary of the tourism department and general manager of KIAL, Venu. It can be noted that only a small percentage of tourists coming to Kerala visit northern Malabar. If travelers setting foot on the coast of Kerala are to be brought to the districts of Kannur, Kasaragod and Wayanad, then international tour operators should understand the tourism opportunities in the region. As part of efforts to educate the 500 international tour operators, they would be brought in batches to northern Malabar within a year, Prasanth said.

The North Malabar Chamber of Commerce has also developed a program to introduce the scope of North Malabar tourism to national tour operators. Sixty tour operators from Delhi, Pune, Noida, Hyderabad and Surat would be brought to Kannur during the second week of January, reports the chairman of the House tourism subcommittee, KK Radhakrishnan. Office officials add that hotels and resorts in Kannur would also be presented to tour operators.

Plans are on the verge of making tourist packages that include airline tickets available through airlines operating services to Kannur as part of the “Destination Kannur” project, KIAL COO M Subhash said. Preliminary discussions on this subject are underway, he adds.

Prasanth informs that all hotels and main tour operators in the districts of Kannur and Kasaragod would be partners in the initiative.

‘Destination Kannur’ will provide the necessary boost for the growth of not only the tourism industry in northern Malabar, but also the region’s business sector, said Dr Joseph Benaven, chairman of the Northern Chamber of Commerce from Malabar.

River cruise all ready
River cruises, which had been set up by various tourism companies as part of the Malanad River Cruise project, would also be an integral part of the “Destination Kannur” initiative. Representatives of the Parassinikadavu Royal Tourism Society, Ezhilam Houseboat, which is owned by Ezhome Bank and WAKE, have confirmed that they will be part of the “Destination Kannur” packages.

Malabar travel market in perspective

Efforts are underway to organize a Malabar Travel Market in Kannur, which will showcase the tourism opportunities of northern Malabar, on the Kerala Travel Market Lines. Although the idea of ​​organizing a travel market was put forward by the North Malabar Chamber of Commerce, all organizations that are part of the Kannur Development Forum are supporting the business. The objective of the market is to bring tour operators from different countries of the world to Kannur and expose them to the sights, rituals, cuisines, rivers, mountains, backwaters, handicrafts and traditional occupations of the districts of Kannur, Kasaragod, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram. . In addition, accommodation facilities for travelers and cruises would also be highlighted. The main attractions of the event would be the Malanad River cruise and Thalassery heritage tourism projects. The organizers of the Travel Mart are determined to make the best possible use of the potential of Kannur Airport.

The words of encouragement from PA State Tourism Minister Mohamed Riyas on his first visit to the district after becoming a minister provided the much needed boost to lead the travel market, forum officials said. The Minister reminded them that the main international travel magazines have mentioned that the tourism potential of Malabar has not yet been properly exploited.

Mohamed Riyas, who is also the minister of the PWD, assured that the region’s road infrastructure would be improved.

The state’s tourism department is preparing sweeping plans to double the number of tourist arrivals in 2025 from current figures. The five-star hotel project in Muzhappilangad was launched as part of efforts to attract more tourists to the area. Many projects, including the training of staff working in the tourism industry in the district, are under preparation, adds Prasanth.