KOCHI: It is high time tourism in the state tees off with renewed vigour. Post-pandemic, as those in the industry point out, Kerala needs to be presented before the world in a new package, one that will attract elite travellers. One way, as pointed out by a couple from Switzerland, is golf tourism.
Rene and Madlen Rinderknecht, who were in Kochi as a part of their travel-cum-golf play, said, “The climate of Kerala makes it very conducive for tourists coming in from colder climes. The only thing that is needed is the development of golf courses attached to resorts.”
Rene, who himself is an amateur golfer and owns a golf club back home, says such resorts will go a long way in attracting a good number of tourists who travel all over the world playing golf at different courses. The couple, who have been on a 14-day trip to India, started their tour by playing on the golf courses in New Delhi, Agra, Rambhargh, Bengaluru, and Ooty, and finally came to the Cochin International Airport Limited’s (CIAL) golf course at Nedumbassery.
“Look at the turf here,” said Rene pointing to the thick green carpet of grass at the CIAL golf course. “You won’t be able to see such a natural growth of grass in North India. It takes a huge amount of investment to maintain a course in such a condition. But here it is very easy and why not? The climate here is very appropriate,” he says. The Rinderknecht family has been playing golf for many years. Rene is also a member of the International Golf Club. Till now, the couple has visited 20 countries to play golf. “We have been to Canada, nine European countries, and ten Asian countries, including China, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia. India is the 20th country,” he said.
According to Madlen, Rene’s wife, there are two kinds of golf aficionados. “Those who play professionally and the ones who mix holiday with a game of golf. Kerala has immense potential when it comes to creating such courses,” she said.
According to Ajai Kumar K S, a German-speaking professional guide, this is the first time that Green Golf Reisen AG, the Swiss tour operator that solely promotes golf tours blended with holidays, is arranging such a visit to India.
“Their Indian counterpart and senior manager of Earthen Experiences LLP Manish Singh, and South Tourism business manager Madan Paramanandam did all the ground work for the visit,” he said. Though a programme involving golf tourism was started in Thiruvananthapuram, it fizzled out. “But it is high time we utilise the potential offered by the golf courses at CIAL and Thiruvananthapuram. These courses have the potential to attract high-spending international tourists. Bringing in such new trends is the only way to revitalise the struggling tourism industry in the state,” said Ajai.
Meanwhile, an official with CIAL golf course said plans have been initiated to build cottages besides upgrading the entire course at CIAL. “The aim is to tap into golf tourism that is trending the world over. The project will take off early next year,” said the official.