Kochi features in Conde Nast Traveller’s list of Best Places to Visit in Asia in 2024

Kerala tourism has been in the limelight in the past year winning accolades and titles for the sustaible and responsible tourism.

BySouth First Desk

Published Nov 18, 2023 | 2:56 PMUpdatedNov 18, 2023 | 6:27 PM

Kochi Conde Naste Traveller Kerala Tourism

Kerala Tourism is on a roll. The latest accolade coming its way is the city of Kochi being featured in the London-based luxury travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller‘s List of the Best Places to visit in Asia in 2024.

Heaping praise on Kochi for its sustainable initiatives and local festivals, the travel magazine also mentions the city’s waterways, its verdant backwaters, lagoons, and rivers, which have lured visitors for centuries — from the Arab, Chinese and European merchants since the 1300s, to modern-day travellers.

“As one of the first in the world, its water metro system a socially inclusive transport option connecting 10 islands along a 78-km network was already revolutionary when it launched in 2021, but will set the bar even higher by late 2024, when it becomes fully solar powered,” the article read.

Sustainable tourism

Conde Nast said the water metro was part of a wider effort to transform Kerala’s financial and commercial capital into a solar powerhouse.

The State Tourism Department on Saturday, 18 November, said the magazine has pointed out that the city’s international airport (CIAL) is the first in the world to operate solely on solar energy and was recently upgraded with the introduction of a dedicated business jet terminal that is the largest in India.

Kumarakom. (Kerala Toursim)

Kumarakom. (Kerala Toursim)

The magazine also said, “On a wider scale, Kerala Tourism 2.0, the state’s $43 million 2023-2024 sustainable tourism initiative, will focus on improving infrastructure and travel corridors between Kochi and less-visited destinations such as Munnar and Kozhikode, as well as local festivals, from the ancient temple gathering of Thrissur Pooram to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.”

Tourism Minister PA Mohamed Riyas said it was a huge accolade for Kerala Tourism which has always strived to strike a judicious balance between the commercial growth of tourism and its sustainability to ensure the participation and well-being of local communities.

Tourism Secretary Biju K said the sustainable initiatives in the tourism sector have made not only Kochi but the entire state a welcoming destination for travellers from across the world.

The magazine also refers to improvements that are underway at Kochi’s 150-year-old Ernakulam Market, which is set to unveil its years-in-the-making redesign in early 2024.

Tourism Director S Prem Krishnan said the endorsement by Conde Nast Traveller was a testament to “our transformative initiatives with full respect to surrounding ecology”.

Also Read: Kerala Tourism wins big at World Travel Market — again

Past awards

Kerala tourism has been in the limelight over the past year, winning accolades and titles for its sustainable and responsible tourism. This month itself, the Kerala Tourism pavilion at the just-concluded World Travel Market (WTM) in London was adjudged the best at the event.

In 2022 WTM, little-known Maravanthuruthu grama panchayat in Kerala’s Kottayam district walked away with the honours for “conserving water and improving water security and supply for neighbours”.

STREET Arival thodu kayaking

Kayaking on the cleaned-up Arival thodu in Kottayam district’s Maravanthuruthu. (Supplied)

On 3 November, Kerala won the prestigious Global Responsible Tourism Award 2023, for its sustainable and women-inclusive initiatives successfully promoted by the state’s Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission.

Earlier, in September, wet and verdant Kumarakom on the Vembanad lake topped an all-India survey for revenue gained by hotels and resorts in popular leisure destinations. The ranking also reflected the growing preference among tourists visiting Kerala.

Kumarakom posted the highest revenue per available room (RevPar) in the financial year 2022-23.

In August, Kerala Tourism won the 2023 Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award in the Marketing Campaign (State & City – Global) category.

The state won the award for its innovative initiative to attract visitors. Conceptualised for an audience transitioning to normalcy post-Covid, the “Make up for lost time, pack up for Kerala” campaign targeted domestic tourists.

In January 2023, another feather was added to Kerala’s tourism cap. A New York Times (NYT) article included, “God’s Own Country” in its “52 Places to Go in 2023” list.

The NYT listicle, which ranked Kerala 13, also lauded the state as a “Responsible Tourism Destination”.

Related: Kerala’s Maravanthuruthu wins at World Travel Mart in London

Tribute to tour operator

Conde Nast Traveller also paid tribute to responsible tourism operator The Blue Yonder, which created a twilight dining experience inspired by Kochi’s historic Chinese fishing nets in 2023 in Ezhikkara.

The innovative travel company, which offers opportunities to experience conservation-focused mangrove trails and climate-resilient Pokkali rice farms, also revamped the 2023-2024 Nila River voyages: Two-week odysseys along the state’s cultural lifeline, from the Palakkad gap to Ponnani.

Also featuring in the magazine’s list are Kathmandu Valley, Nepal; Singapore; The Silk Road, Uzbekistan; Kobe, Japan; Bangkok (Chinatown), Thailand; Mongolia; Ras Al Khaimah, UAE; the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia; Da Nang, Vietnam; and south and central Sri Lanka.

(With PTI inputs)