Clothing, Food, General, Travel

A Trip to Truly God’s Own Country – Kerala for the ICTT 2013

Sagittarius and travel goes hand in hand. Needless to say, I love traveling. In the past, I’ve lived & worked in different countries. Includes Moscow in Russian Federation, Oxford in the UK, Cheltenham in Gloucestershire in the UK, London, and different places in India (Kolkata, Mangalore, Bangalore, New Delhi etc) and the list goes on. But a recent visit to Truly God’s Own Country, Kerala, kinda left me speechless! I have been to Cochin few times earlier (as a kid accompanying my dad and family on official tours), but the sight of The Leela on the Kovalam Beach was overwhelmingly awesome. One just needs to see it to believe it.

View from The Leela, Kovalam
View from The Leela, Kovalam
View from The Leela, Kovalam
View from The Leela, Kovalam
View of The Leela, Kovalam
View of The Leela, Kovalam from Kovalam Beach

Golden beaches. Magical backwaters. Refreshing hill stations. Rejuvenating Ayurveda. Exotic art forms. Colorful festivals. Delightful cuisine… Kerala is renowned the world over for its diverse and unique attractions. Small wonder, the National Geographic Traveler chose the land as ONE OF THE TEN PARADISES OF THE WORLD. Enthralled by the unmatched beauty of this green paradise, former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney called Kerala, ‘Truly God’s Own Country’.

Anyways, I had given a small introduction as to why I visited Kovalam from 7-9 June in one of my earlier posts. Kovalam is a beach town by the Arabian Sea in Thiruvananthapuram city, Kerala, India, located around 16 km from the city center. Was a guest speaker at the first ever International Conference on Travel Technology (ICTT), India organized by the Association of Travel Trade Organizations, India (ATTOI) at The Leela, Kovalam with the support of Kerala’s Department of Tourism. ICTT was inaugurated by Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala, and brought together subject experts from India and abroad, tour operators, hotels and resorts owners, tourism marketing professionals, academicians, researchers and think tanks to discuss evolving technologies and the opportunities they present for the tourism industry, a release stated.

Click here for Press Release, here for Sessions covered, here for Speakers for the event.
Was an amazing experience – met some amazing people – learnt a lot of things – and yes, was absolutely fun living in The CLUB Arabian Sea facing suite of The Leela, Kovalam.

Google’s Zeitgeist, a tool that reveals what the world on the Internet wants to know has revealed that Kerala has edged out Taj Mahal as the most searched travel destination in India (source). Taj Mahal, which is one of the most popular travel destinations, not only in India but across the world has been pushed to the second spot by God’s own country. When I travel abroad, my friends often talk of visiting the ‘backwaters in Kerala’. A few questions quickly come in mind:

  • Why is Kerala the most talked about, most discussed, most searched “location to visit” in India? (other than Goa which offers tough competition)
  • Why is Kerala State Tourism considered the *BEST* of the class in India?
  • Why don’t tourists talk about other states?
  • What’s so special about Kerala?

The answer to all these and related questions is in the “single” fact – The people of Kerala, whether be a backwater houseboat owner, to a home-stay owner, to a tour operator including the Politicians, are seriously, deeply, sincerely committed to one unifying cause; one singular aim – “To establish Kerala as the best TOURIST DESTINATION in India for Indians and foreigners alike“. Thus, it was quite pleasing to see Mr. Oommen Chandy, the Honorable Chief Minister, Govt. of Kerala inaugurating the ICTT. Union Minister, Congress MP (Thiruvananthapuram), Dr. Shashi Tharoor giving a fiery speech and setting the tone for the entire event and the remaining entourage as well. Personally as I see it, its quite difficult for other State Tourism Depts to match this level of commitment, hard work and sincerity.

Thus, I have decided writing an entire Series of visual blog posts on Kerala… since the Kovalam beaches left me captivated for more. The series will include:

  • A Guide to Beaches in Kerala
  • A Guide to Backwaters in Kerala
  • A Guide to Hill Stations in Kerala
  • A Trip to Kovalam & Varkala Beaches
  • Kerala Heritage Trip (A Trip Back in Time)
  • Shopping in Kerala

So stay tuned for the blog posts coming up pretty soon.

My presentation at the event can be accessed here: Generating Leads and Conversion, Measurement and Marketing ROI
Summary: Are you a Business that is already Online? Or, looking to migrate a core part of your Business (say, Registrations application) Online? Or are you still an offline (or bricks-and-mortar) Business thinking of moving Online soon? Whatever be the case, your Business can only benefit from moving Online in terms of driving business growth, more international exposure and profitability. Understand the key points for being successful Online – what is Value? why Value is necessary for creating a Successful Business Online? What is Guy Kawasaki’s DICEE? Understanding the Lead Generation Funnel. What are KPIs driving your Business? How to Assess them? What to do to optimize the Conversions happening on your Business Website? More strategic insights into Key Levers for your Business. And finally, a practical way of Calculating your Business’ Marketing ROI.

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