Travel industry professionals from across the globe have gathered in Kochi’s Willington Island to chart the industry’s response to COVID-19 at the Kerala Travel Mart, India’s largest tourism expo.
A row of brightly coloured caravans stands on an empty dock at the port of Kochi, man-made in the nearly century-old Willingdon Island in the Kerala backwaters.
Equipped with beds and baths, these vehicles are the new houseboats in ‘God’s Own Country, where tour operators are shaping up new ideas for travelling during the pandemic.
Riyaz U.C., owner of Spiceland Holidays, which runs new caravans in Kerala. “Today’s travellers do not want to go to crowded places.
Instead, walking by a caravan allows visitors to stay within their groups while moving from one caravan park to another, thus getting away from destinations that are busy with people. Whether self-propelled or driver-driven, a caravan has its own rules adapted to the preferences of the passenger and the needs of the times.
Also called a motor home, the Caravan has a living room, pantry, two bunk beds and a bathroom large enough for a four-member group or family.
A caravan is a complete door-to-door travel package,” says Vinay Luthra, founder of Lux Camper, an affordable caravan service eyeing a new market for safe travel in the country.
A bouquet of new tourism products based on the Indian Premier League such as caravans, work vacations, boutique stays, river lodges and even the Champions Boat League reflect travellers’ choices, which tourism industry professionals refer to as the “new normal”.
The biennial Kerala Travel Market (5-8 May), which takes place after a gap of four years, sees 1,500 buyers from 69 countries. 55,000 buyer-seller meetings have been scheduled during the four-day event, which is the largest travel business meet in India.