KOCHI: In pursuit of a unique culinary experience during travels, tourists have been known to try their hand at learning ethnic cuisines. As the land of spices, Kerala offers a great potential to explore the sumptuous possibilities of culinary tourism, as this is a hitherto unearthed opportunity.
Tourists are coming to the state in large numbers, first to eat and then to learn how to prepare these dishes. Since about 50 per cent of the 1.17 crore travellers who came to Kerala in 2013 consists of ladies, culinary tourism is all set to take off in a grand way in Kerala.
Culinary tourism is defined as the pursuit of unique and memorable dining experiences. By combining travel with a chance to experience its local cuisine, culinary tourism offers both locals and tourists an authentic taste of the place. As part of the Village Tourism project, culinary tourism is already in place at Kochi, Kumbalangi, Kumarakom, Vaikom and Kovalam. The Ethnic Food Restaurant Samridhi at Kumarakom made a revenue of `78 lakh during the last tourist season alone.
“When we started the Responsible Tourism project in 2008, local dishes were served to tourists from the houses at Kumarakom. It became an instant hit and many well-known hotels started to look for local women who make good food. As part of providing culinary experience, projects like ‘A Day With A Fisherman’ at Kumarakom and ‘Learning to Milk a Cow and Make Products from It’ at Kovalam are already in place. Many such experiments are happening in various places across the state. Foreign tourists are learning to make tea in Kerala style,” said Responsible Tourism Project state coordinator Roopeshkumar.
“Domestic as well as foreign tourists are interested in culinary experiences. It is a new area that can be promoted in a big way. In the ancient times as well, people came to Kerala for spices. Hence Kerala delicacies were known world wide long ago. In order to make the visit to Kerala a memorable experience, culinary tourism can play a major role,” said Abad Hotel and Resorts managing director Riyaz Ahammed.
He said that recently a group of women from North India came to Kochi only to learn the art of making Kerala dishes. According to Kerala Tourism’s former director S Harikishore, culinary tourism is the least explored area in the tourism sector in the state.