Thiruvananthapuram : Foreign tourists to Kerala can now walk through lush green paddy fields and enjoy bullock cart rides, as well as take part in interactive sessions about the state's famous cuisine -- courtesy Kerala Tourism's new holiday package which offers 99 experiences in nine 'gem-like' days called Navaratna 'Experiessential' Holidays, the programme offers foreign visitors a choice of 500 tour packages. The offer would later be extended to domestic tourists also.The holiday package, launched by state Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar here on Thursday, has been conceived by tour operators body Association of Tourism Trade Organisations India (ATTOI).The package is expected to ensure a feeling of freshness through hands-on experience of the "real Kerala" through local interactions and highlighting the unique traditions and lifestyle of the state.
The highlight of the package is the nine 'gem-like' days of experiences in Kerala, including an insight into village life, community interactions and promotion of sustainable tourism practices. "This is another example of public-private partnership in our state's tourism sector, that has been demonstrating to the world the huge benefits in working together," said the minister, handing over the first copy of the package brochure to travel writer from Sweden, Marianne Hard Af Segarstad."It is not only a product update for Kerala, coming out of the same old repeated itineraries and products, but a step that will help rebrand Kerala as a 'new destination' and overcome competition from other destinations," the minister said.Kerala Tourism secretary Jyothilal said: "Coming out of the comforts of the hotel room and car and taking a plunge into Kerala life is the motto of the new packages."The package would also include eating dosas at local restaurants and having coffee with a Brahmin family, echoing the tradition of 'Agraharam' visits.