Tourism - Kerala Boat Race Event Case Study

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Tourism - Kerala Boat Race

Event Tourism -- Kerala Boat Race

Introduction to Event Tourism

Event tourism is the latest niche in the field of tourism and it refers to the way cities and regions market the local events to attract more visitors to the place. It can be loosely defined as the increase in the number of people who are visiting a place because of an event. Most people who travel for an event and to enjoy the cultural experience are highly educated, perform professional or managerial operations and earn high incomes (Richards & Palmer, 2010). These tourists tend to spend more money than an average traveler and this is why event-centric tourism is given so much importance by the organizers as well as the governments.

From a marketing perspective, festivals have become more than simply a local event. The attractive and colorful aspects of the festival are prized because they offer a glimpse into the local culture and provides a unique opportunity for the people and the Government to showcase their culture to the outside world. From the visitors' point-of-view, it gives them a chance to enjoy diverse cultural experiences and opportunities to participate in distinct and interesting activities and experiences.

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Event tourism has a big impact on the regional growth and development of a country. According to the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), these events increase the number of visitors to the area and create awareness of the region to the world (Northern Daily Reader, 2012). It is one of the best ways by which a country can popularize a particular region to the world. Moreover, showcasing the local culture and practices ensure that it is continued to be practiced among future generations. Associating culture with economics is a simple and yet powerful way to continue the interest and traditions of the region because the money that flows into the region due to the event tourism provides more job opportunities for the local people and enhances their quality of life.

Kerala Boat Race - Background

TOPIC: Case Study on Tourism - Kerala Boat Race Event Tourism Assignment

India is a diverse country with numerous languages and traditions. In fact, almost each state in this country has a different language and have a unique set of traditions that is followed by the residents of the state. One such state is Kerala, located on the southwestern coast of India. Its long coastline, lush forests and traditions make it a popular tourist destination for many visitors within and outside India.

To cash in on the beauty of this part of India, the Government started a marketing campaign and called this state, "God's own country." This state specializes in ayurveda massages, boat houses, kathakali dance, historic temples and beauty and greenery all around. Kerala has a unique culture and is the only state in the country where a language called Malayalam is spoken. It also has a unique set of festivals out of which Onam or the hravest festival is one of the most prominent ones.

Onam is a Hindu festival that is celebrated in the month of August. This festival lasts for ten days during which time the entire state comes to a standstill. This is a great time to visit this part of the country as houses are decorated with a myriad of flower patterns, there is lots of food for sharing and the world-famous boat races.

The boat race is one of the most significant events that take place during the ten-day Onam festival and it attracts visitors from around the world. It takes place on the second Saturday of August every year. The boats are shaped like snakes and about 100 oarsmen sit on it and put in all their energy to steer their boat first to the finish line. The fascinating part of this race is that all the men have to use the same speed, style, direction and energy to get to the end and this unified effort is the hallmark of this race. The boats are beautifully decorated and each boat has its own name. The crowds pick a boat and cheer its riders and hope that their boat gets first to the finish line (Matthew, 2009). This boat race takes place in the Punamada Lake near Alapuzha in Kerala and it is significant for each of the villages in the Kuttanad area. The victory team is celebrated for months after the race is over.

This important event for global tourists started way back in 1952 when the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the state and a big pageantry of boats followed him from Kottayam to Alapuzha. Nehru decided on an impromptu race that excited everyone and since then, it has become an annual event. It is called Nehru Boat Race in honor of the person who started it (George, 2011).

There are other smaller races that take place in and around this region that is similar to the Nehru boat race. In fact, the boat races have made the months from August to March an active season for foreign travelers while for domestic travelers, the inflow is fairly constant throughout the year. When visitors come for the boat race, they end up staying for a longer period of time and this proves to be beneficial for the entire region. On an average, it is estimated that foreign travelers stay for about 14.1 days while the domestic travelers stay for 6.5 days on an average. However, most of the crowds tend to visit the south and central part of the state while the northern part is fairly tourist-free (Indian Planning Commission, 2002).



The benefits that accrue to the local state Government as well as the federal Government from this event is enormous. The most significant aspect of these boat races is the huge amounts of money and interest it generates. The race organizers tie-up with some of the top organizations in the region for sponsorship. In 2011, the organizers found a sponsor who was willing to give them roughly about $500,000 for this one day event.

Other than the sponsors, this area benefits immensely from the hotel rentals, restaurants and shopping. Most foreign visitors who come to watch this event rent houseboats for their stay because it is unique to this part of the world. People can live in the houseboats with all the comforts of staying in a hotel or cabin and this is what attracts them to it. All hotels, houseboats and vacation rentals are booked during this time in Alapuzha (Khan, 2010).

The boat race has given a boost to the overall tourism of the state as well as the country. The average number of foreign tourists arriving in Kerala during 1980 was 21,604 and this has increased to 232,564 in 2002. According to the research conducted by the WTTC, Kerala's travel and tourism industry is expected to grow by 11.4% by 2013 and the annual receipts from this sector alone is expected to be about INR 569.3 billion. This will account for about 14% of the state's total income (India Planning Commission, 2008). The reasons for this vast increase in the number of tourists has been the aggressive marketing efforts taken by the state Government to promote the beauty of Kerala and also, event tourism such as the annual Kerala boat race.

Regional Exposure

Event tourism is a great way to put a particular city or region on the world map. According to Jamal & Robinson (2009: p.486), "for these cities, as well as those trying to get onto the global stage for the first time, festivals and events form part of place-marketing strategies, fueled by an ideology of globalization, localization and competition among cities." A particular event can bring more focus to the host region and this in turn, is likely to increase its current and future economic prospects. A good case in point is the Kerala boat race.

This boat race is viewed by an estimated two hundred thousand people each year. These numbers are huge for this sleepy coastal town in Kerala and a good number of people travel from outside the state and country to watch this spectacle (Nehru Trophy Boat Race, 2011). This provides an opportunity for the state to showcase its natural beauty to the visitors and to bring them back for more experiences that it has to offer. For example, any person visiting the boat race is likely to stay for more than a day and this means, they get to see the surrounding areas. When they like what they see, they will come back during another time of the year or plan a longer trip in the future to enjoy other things apart from the boat race. This provides a big boost in tourism for the surrounding areas as well.

Another advantage of this event for Kerala is that is now on the world map for exotic travel. People who have come here in the past share their experience and this intrigues many others and motivates them to visit the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Tourism - Kerala Boat Race Event.  (2012, April 22).  Retrieved October 22, 2021, from

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"Tourism - Kerala Boat Race Event."  April 22, 2012.  Accessed October 22, 2021.