KOCHI: Is Maradu turning into a tourist destination? Maybe not, but it is one of the favourite spots of foreign tourists who visit Kerala if the statistics are any indication. And, it is not because of its rich biodiversity or iconic spots but for its MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition) potential.
The Tourism Department stats show that 46,034, 41,539 and 38,324 foreign tourists visited Maradu in 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively. Traditionally, Kochi, called the gateway to Kerala, accounts for the highest number of foreign tourist footfall in the state. In Kochi, Maradu stands just behind Fort Kochi in terms of foreign tourist footfall.
According to senior tourism department officials, Maradu attracts foreign tourists owing to a couple of major private luxury hotels in the region. It is also an ideal location for holding MICE with its serene ambience and lake view.
A large number of medical tourists, who frequent the state, also opt to stay there due to its proximity to some major hospitals in the region.
The tourism industry considers the place ideal for setting up lake view resorts and apartments. Other than these, it has no other credentials to woo tourists.
However, Maradu houses two major hotels - Crowne Plaza and Le Meridien - popular stops for the majority of the foreign tourists flocking the city.
In the case of Fort Kochi, which received 1,15,482, 1,02,365, and 93,727 foreign tourists in 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively, there are around 220 homestays, both registered and unregistered, which accommodate the bulk of the tourists who throng the region.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the venue of the world’s longest contemporary art festival, has also aided the growth of the region. But in the case of Maradu, it was only the MICE programmes and lake view sojourns that drew the crowd to the region, officials said.
Kerala Travel Mart secretary Jose Pradeep said the industry has nothing to do with the present controversy at Maradu, as the place has not found a place in the itinerary as a tourist destination. But, it’s one of the spots for foreign tourists who Kochi, he said.