Kerala, situated on the lush and tropical Malabar Coast, is
one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Named as one of the "ten
paradises of the world" and "50 places of a lifetime" by the National Geographic
Traveler magazine, Kerala is especially known for its ecotourism
initiatives. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its
varied demographics, has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist
destinations in the world. Growing at a rate of 13.31%, the state's tourism
industry is a major contributor to the state's economy.
A mohiniaattam performance.Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively
unknown destination; most tourist circuits focused on North India.
Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development
Corporation, the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state,
laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry. In the decades that
followed, Kerala's tourism industry was able to transform the state into one of
the niche holiday destinations in India. The tagline Kerala- God's Own Country,
originally coined by Vipin Gopal, has been widely used in Kerala's tourism
promotions and soon became synonymous with the state. In 2006, Kerala attracted
8.5 million tourist arrivals, an increase of 23.68% over the previous year,
making the state one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world.
Popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalam, Cherai and
Varkala; the hill stations of Munnar, Nelliampathi, Ponmudi and Wayanad; and
national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar and Eravikulam National Park.
The "backwaters" region, which comprises an extensive network of interlocking
rivers, lakes, and canals that centre on Alleppey, Kollam, Kumarakom, and
Punnamada (where the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in August), also see
heavy tourist traffic. Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace and
the Mattancherry Palace, are also visited. Cities such as Kochi and
Thiruvananthapuram are popular centres for their shopping and traditional
theatrical performances. During early summer, the Thrissur Pooram is conducted,
attracting foreign tourists who are largely drawn by the festival's elephants