Singin’ in the rain
The cool showers, the lush green landscape and the romance...monsoon tourism sees a 100 per cent increase in places like Goa and Kerala, writes Manoj Sharma.india Updated: Jun 22, 2008 02:13 IST
Harsh Sharma, a BPO professional is keenly awaiting the monsoon. It’s that time of the year when the die-hard romantic packs off to Goa for his annual holiday.
Sharma is not an exception. An increasing number of youngsters and couples are holidaying during the monsoon, traditionally considered a slack season for the tourism industry. “During monsoons, the Goan landscape is lush, green and scenic,” gushes Sharma.
“Monsoon is becoming a favourite season with deal hunters. This year has seen a 100 per cent increase in bookings,” says Amit Saberwal, vice president, business development, makemytrip.com. Adds Karan Anand, head, business development, Cox & Kings India, “Monsoon tourism has been growing at a rate of 30 per cent in the past few years. While people are also going to the hills during this season, Goa is still a top destination.”
Apart from discounts offered by hotels and airlines, the rise in tourist traffic during the monsoon can also be attributed to the aggressive promotional campaigns launched by various state tourism departments, especially Kerala and Goa. Kerala launched its campaign two years back with new products such as ‘rain walks’ and monsoon food festivals. But the highlight of the Kerala tourism campaign was an ad-slogan: ‘Sometimes it takes water to kindle a fire’.
“We got married in April, but will be going in July for our honeymoon in Kerala. The sight of the rains lashing the verdant backwaters is breathtaking,” says Monica Gupta, a Bangalore-based software professional. In Kerala, the hotel occupancy rates during the monsoon have gone up by 20 to 30 per cent in the last two years. “What is also attracting tourists is the fact that the famous Ayurveda treatment is most effective during this season,” says PA Mohanan Nair, deputy director, Department of Tourism, Kerala.
Goa too has been trying to promote what it calls ‘raindrop tourism’ for the last few years. And if tour operators and resort owners in Goa are to be believed, it’ll be pouring tourists this monsoon. “It’s a pity that most people go to Goa in winters. There is nothing like the sight of dripping palms, damp churches, and washed out roads in Goa during the rains. The countryside acquires an ethereal quality,” says Manish Sharma, 30, a Delhi-based artist, who has been holidaying in Goa for the past three years.
“We’ve got good bookings this monsoon. I have been trying to promote Goa as a monsoon destination for two decades now,” says Godfrey Lawrence, who runs Godfrey’s Indian Retreat, which offers several ‘romantic monsoon packages’, that includes village tours, nature trails, birdwatching, visit to waterfalls, etc.
But Lawrence feels that the state hasn’t realised its full potential as a monsoon tourism destination, because of “unprofessionalism of the tourism department”. Elvis Gomes, director, department of tourism, Goa disagrees, “Tourist inflow to Goa during monsoons has been increasing at seven-eight percent a year because of our innovative and sustained campaign. This year monsoon arrived early and Goa is already full of tourists.”
Water Water Everywhere
It’s not just Goa and Kerala, other states like Madhya Pradesh, Sikkim, Maharashtra and Meghalaya are also cashing in by offering special monsoon packages. Says Rajinder Rai, Vice President, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), “While Kerala and Goa are the most popular, other states are also seeing in increased tourist traffic. Overall, there as been a 15-20 per cent rise in the tourist traffic during the monsoon season in the past few years.”