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Kerala promotes caravan tourism in a big way

Thiruvananthapuram: Caravan tourism, the Kerala government's path-breaking initiative that aims to provide a novel experience to tourists and encourages the active participation of local communities, has evoked an enthusiastic response. Following successful road shows in Europe and the Middle East, and various partnership meets in four major metro cities in India, Kerala Tourism is aggressively promoting the project across the country.
"The caravan policy marks a strategic shift to present the entire state before the global audience based on the concept of 'exploring the unexplored' round the year," Kerala's tourism minister P A Mohammed Riyas said, adding that the government has announced a comprehensive stakeholder-friendly policy to encourage this segment.
While caravans are specially-built vehicles for travel and leisure, caravan parks are designated areas to park the vehicles and facilitate the visitors to spend a night or a day or for an extended period to explore a destination. In its caravan policy announced in September last year, the Kerala government has ensured that the concept is environment-friendly. For example, one of the norms set for vehicles being used as caravans is that they should comply with the BS-VI norms of emission.
While 10 caravans operated by six operators including the state-run Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) have already begun operations, as many as 500 caravans are waiting to hit the road soon. "The reason for such a buoyant response is that, unlike in other states, instead of operating the caravans or caravan parks, the government is a facilitator and has created the right eco-system for the project," Kerala tourism director V R Krishna Teja said.
Apart from Benz Caravan which was first launched in Kerala in October last year, Force Motorhome, Luxe Camper (of Bengaluru-based startup Campervan Camps), and Chhattisgarh-based Moto Glampers have since launched their caravan vehicled giving a variety of caravanning options to discerning tourists. Six months after launching the caravan tourism policy, proposals for 106 operators are awaiting clearance to set up 151 caravan parks across Kerala.
Travel firms are designing hybrid packages. "It will be a big hit with honeymooners because of the privacy and security offered by caravans," said Abraham George, managing director of Intersight Tours and Travels.

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