With the new tourism season round the corner, Kerala has put in place plans to provide world-class Ayurveda facilities and services for visitors factoring in the biodiversity hot spot Western Ghats.
One of the eight biodiversity hot spots in the world, the Western Ghats has been identified a key component in Kerala Tourism's campaign focusing on Ayurveda, latching on to worldwide interest in the ancient Indian system of wellness.
"Kerala is naturally blessed to be the flag bearer of Ayurveda because of the state's rich ecosystem available within the Western Ghats," said Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar, prefacing the plan.
Kerala is home to over 900 species of Ayurvedic herbs. The Western Ghats, the mountain range that runs through its eastern sector from hills of Wayanad in North Kerala to the southern Sahyadri peak, is an abundant reserve for medicinal herbs.
For instance, the'Agasthyakoodam' peak near the state capital, believed to be the abode of Sage Agasthya of Indian mythology, is home to some of the rarest medicinal herbs.
Under the Tourism Department's quality assurance policy, visitors looking for therapeutic and rejuvenation programmes would be guided by 'Green Leaf' and 'Olive Leaf' grading for Ayurvedic institutions, which marks 'Kerala Tourism approved Ayurvedic Centres,' a Kerala Tourism press release said on Friday.
Kerala received 94 lakh domestic visitors last year, while number of foreign tourists stood at eight lakh. Most foreign visitors utilising the Ayurveda wellness programmes were from Germany, the Middle East and Australia.
Tourism Secretary Suman Billa said, "Ayurveda of Kerala is essentially wellness oriented, a treatment to bring vigour and existence to your system. That is what tourists look for."
Ayurvedic therapy programmes are expected to push the length of holidays for tourists further. Under the Ayurveda focused tourism campaign, the average length of the holiday for foreign tourists is expected to go up to 18 days per person from the present average stay of 16.2 days.
Kerala is also transforming itself into an Ayurveda therapy for illness, besides the present pillar as a wellness treatment destination.
While certain illnesses like back pain are already treated under Ayurveda, Ayurvedic centres across Kerala will offer treatment for illnesses like respiratory ailments also.
Another plan is to bring about a convergence between different systems of medicine centring on holistic and multidisciplinary hospitals offering treatment under traditional as well as modern systems of medicine.
The state tourism had also decided to add new destinations and new products, the release added.