KOCHI: Adding yet another jewel to the crown of the Queen of the Arabian Sea, popular travel guide Lonely Planet has included Kochi among the top 10 cities to visit in 2020. In the recently released ‘Best in Travel 2020’ top cities, Kochi was ranked seventh. This is expected to give a boost to the tourism potential of the city.
Other cities included in the list are Salzburg, Austria; Washington DC, USA; Cairo Egypt; Galway, Ireland; Bonn, Germany; La Paz, Bolivia; Vancouver, Canada; Dubai, UAE and Denver, USA. “Set on a magnificent estuary, serene Kochi has been drawing traders, explorers and travellers to its shores for over 600 years. Nowhere else in India could you find such an intriguing mix: Giant Chinese fishing nets, a 450-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese- and Dutch-era houses and the crumbling remains of the British Raj. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal and Holland and an English village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast. It’s a delightful place to explore, laze in arty cafes and relax in some of India’s finest homestays and heritage hotels. It’s also an important centre for Keralan arts (traditional and contemporary) and a standout place to see kathakali and kalarippayattu,” describes Lonely Planet.
Attractions in Kochi listed by Lonely Planet are Pardesi Synagogue, Mattanchery Palace, Chinese fishing nets, Kerala Folklore Museum, Hill Palace Museum, St Francis church, David Hall, Indo-Portuguese Museum, Kashi Art Gallery, Indian Naval Maritime Museum, Santa Cruz Basilica, Dutch Cemetery, Bastion Bungalow, Jewish Cemetery, Sts Peter and Paul church.
“This nicely chilled city in southern India has seen the light. Grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast in Kerala, Kochi has become a shining example in renewable energy in recent years, launching the world’s first fully solar-powered airport, which snagged it a UN Champions of the Earth award. But that’s just the tip-of-the-iceberg stuff. With boho cafes, intimate homestays hidden away in lazy, colonial-era backstreets, and a raft of forward-thinking galleries, this city keeps a tight grip on its heritage while wholeheartedly embracing its newfound cool. In 2020, street art comes to the fore at Kochi-Muziris Biennale, putting India firmly on the contemporary arts festival map,” stated Lonely Planet.
S Vijaykumar, secretary of District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), Ernakulam, said it would be a major achievement for Kochi to be listed among the top cities for travellers to visit next year.
“Lonely Planet is considered the bible of travellers. Most of the foreign tourists widely refer to Lonely Planet to plan their itinerary. There is no doubt that more tourist will prefer to visit Kochi now on. It will have a massive impact on tourist arrival and on the entire tourism sector of Kochi,” he said.
As many as 1.69 lakh foreign tourists and 9.96 lakh domestic travellers visited Ernakulam in the first quarter of this year. Of this, around 70 per cent of tourists are believed to have visited Fort Kochi and Mattanchery.
However, the infrastructure, especially the condition of the roads, is a major concern for promoting Kochi as a tourism destination. Kochi Corporation Opposition leader K J Antony said the civic body was working hard to keep tourists away from Kochi.
“The basic infrastructure like roads and amenities are important to attract more tourist to the city. If the tourists experience the flooding that happened on Monday, they will never recommend Kochi to their compatriots. What if the flood triggers an outbreak of communicable diseases? Kochi Corporation has taken no precaution in this regard,” he said.