KOCHI: The tourism sector in the state is undergoing a sea of change. From promoting the regional wonders and culture, the industry today is all about blending with the local flavor. WanderNow, a tourism startup, adopts the concept, calling it Experiential Tourism.Nebu Sam John, one of the co-founders of WanderNow, said, “What the tourists need today is experience the culture of a place. The visitors also want to experience the local life. This interest shown by the tourists works in the favour of the local community.” Based on this concept, WanderNow has launched a tour package called the Tales of Vembanad. The other founders of the startup, that was launched with an initial investment of Rs 8 lakh in August 2017, are Mahesh Mohan (CXO) and Boney S (CMO).
“We wanted the tourists to experience the original village life. What they get to see when visiting the state is all pre-planned and artificial. The entire experience is obtained within the air-conditioned atmosphere of a resort. However, this is not what tourists come in search of,” he said. When the Australian World Orchestra (AWO) came down to Kochi as a part of their concert that was held on September 25, the members wanted to get to know the real Kerala, he added.
“We planned a trip to places around Vembanad Lake. The aim was to acquaint the members of the orchestra with the culture, traditions and way of life of the local residents. They were bowled over by the simplicity of the people, the beauty of the places and also the mouthwatering taste of the local cuisine,” he said.
The founders of WanderNow have come up with an elaborate plan. “As part of our Tales of Vembanad tour, we plan to introduce the tourists to the various communities that make artefact using locally available materials like seashells and water hyacinth,” said Nebu. The package also includes a mud and toddy walk.
“In the case of making artefact using water hyacinth, which again is a novel concept, the aim is to provide a lasting solution to the menace the weed poses,” said the CEO of the startup.
We have roped in an expert who will teach the local residents the method using which the weed can be converted into paper, ropes and other useful things, he added. The tourists can join the artisans in making these products and have a hands-on experience. “The artisans earn a living by selling the finished goods to the tourists and the tourists get to experience the thrill in making things of their own. It is a win-win situation for both,” he said.
The toddy walk has been conceptualised on the wine walk conducted by Maharashtra Tourism Department, said Nebu. “It is different from the usual toddy shop tourism. Here the tourists get to taste fresh today from the palms. It is not about getting drunk. Only tasting is done complimented by the dished made from the fresh catch right on the bank of the lake,” he said.