Even as the hospitality sector is showing a degree of uneven recovery after the prolonged lockdown necessitated by COVID-19, leisure travel to motorable tourist destinations across Kerala is showing a steady increase.
High-end properties are registering full occupancy and bookings are picking up in budget properties. Since uncertainties still prevail over international travel, the main driver behind this partial recovery for the tourism sector is the domestic leisure traveller.
Outbound luxury travellers in the State, left with fewer options, are on the lookout for exclusive short domestic vacations within the State. Inquiries have also started pouring in for year-end holidays during Christmas and New Year. “The stakeholders of the industry should make the most of the demand for short tours from the Kerala market,” a Kerala Tourism Development Corporation official said.
Families are flocking to high-end properties in Kovalam, Ponmudi, Thekkady, Munnar, and Wayanad. The KTDC’s premium properties of Golden Peak in Ponmudi, Tea County in Munnar, Aranya Nivas, and Lake Palace (Thekkady) boast full occupancy.
Properties in Wayanad, a favourite spot for techies in Bengaluru before lockdown, are now witnessing heavy turnout of families from Thrissur, Malappuram, and Kannur.
Two-night packages are much in demand. “Honeymooners come in large numbers to Wayanad as international travel is yet to be fullfledged,” says Prasad Manjali, Director, Contour Island Resort and Spa, near the Banasurasagar dam. To tap the demand, hotels have slashed the tariff by over 50%.
The KTDC has extended its off-season tariff till March 2021. The premium rooms in Lake Palace, the heritage jungle resort in the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Thekkady, which was being sold for ₹25,000 a day in December last year, are now rented out in the ₹10,000-₹15,000 range.
But, the occupancy level not going up as expected in the budget properties and the guests’ reluctance to use restaurants are a concern. The KTDC’s budget property Periyar House with 44 rooms has no takers while the two premium properties have full occupancy.