Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Slum Tour wins Award

We are delighted to report that Reality Tours and Travel, the organisers of Mumbai’s Dharavi Slum Tour is the overall winner of the 2012 Responsible Tourism Awards.  The judges were really impressed by their integrated approach, using tourism to raise awareness of the reality of slum life and their educational programmes.  Many of our customers visiting Mumbai have taken this tour and found it fascinating.  If you are visiting Mumbai and are interested please ask us.  For more information about the tour – speak to Gary who experienced the tour fairly recently.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

‘Tiger Ban’ lifted

On Tuesday (16 Oct) the Supreme Court of India lifted the temporary ban on visiting the core areas of India’s National Parks.  There will be new rules and regulations governing the movements of tourists in the National Parks and this is still under discussion – but an increase in cost - both to stay in resorts and lodges and entry fee is to be expected.  But at least if you have booked a holiday to India to include one or more of the National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries you can now expect to be allowed in!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ban on Tiger Tourism

There is an on-going battle being played out through the Indian courts regarding tigers.  For most of the ‘low season’ there has been a ban on tourists entering Indian National Parks in order to ‘protect the tigers’. Many National Parks are closed at this time anyway so the impact for tourists has been negligible.  But behind the scenes hotels/resorts/lodges, guides and other people that make their living in the parks, the Indian States that have National Parks, Tiger Conservation organisations and other interested bodies have all been battling to keep the parks open.  Their argument is that tiger poachers do not operate where there are tourists.  Also of course tourists bring in large amounts of money which can be re-invested into the parks.  So rather that threatening tigers - tourism is helping them.  Plus of course there are large numbers of people earning a living through ‘tiger tourism’. 
During the ban the local people are doing their best to give people the best experience they can considering the limitations.  This may include visiting the buffer zones or adjacent land.

The arguments continue through the Supreme Court and the next hearing is on 27 September.  In the meantime if you are travelling to India and your itinerary includes a visit to a National Park you will have to take local advice depending on the situation at the time. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Staff Outing

Last week Mr Daniel, our local agent in Kerala (Companion Holidays) treated all his staff and their immediate family to a short holiday.  In the past we have had staff parties (often arranged when one or more of the Kerala Connections staff are in India so that we can join in).  But this year they were given the opportunity to experience something of what our customers experience by taking a holiday in Kerala.

The group of consisted of all our permanent drivers and office staff along with their wives/husbands and children (the youngest child was just one year old) - a total of 35 people.  
They started from Trivandrum and transferred to the backwaters where they all got to spend a night on a houseboat.  As most of our customers spend a night or two on a houseboat this was a wonderful opportunity for them to understand what it is all about.  

They then drove up to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and spent a night in a hotel - another first for most of them.  Because they were a large group they stayed in a number of hotels – but they all met up for dinner hosted by  Greenwood Hotel.  

Next they went to Cochin via Munnar.  Although the drivers visit Kerala’s highest tea growing area regularly this was another first for many of their wives and children.  In Cochin they again had the opportunity to stay in a hotel and eat out.

Finally, what was perhaps the most exciting experience for many of them - they flew from Cochin to Trivandrum.  Drivers spend a lot of time waiting at airports to meet our customers – but Indian rules mean that they are not allowed in the terminal.  Now they have all, not only seen the inside of an airport, but have flown and consequently have an understanding of luggage carousels etc. 

Taking a family holiday is not common practice in India so this was a terrific opportunity for our lovey staff and their families to experience a holiday.  Thank you to Daniel for having the idea and organising it.  And thank you too all the hosts that were so generous and enabled this outing to take place:

Lakes and Lagoons – houseboat operator who provided overnight accommodation, plus lunch and dinner (including prawns).
Aranya Nivas, Thekkady – a delicious buffet lunch
Lake Palace, Thekkady – an exclusive boat for game viewing and evening tea at Lake Palace
Wildernest and Spice Village – accommodation in Thekkady
Greenwoods, Thekkady – buffet dinner (a good spread) for everyone
Secret Garden, Rain Tree and Tea Bungalow – accommodation in Cochin
Greater Cochin Boats (Mr Shibu) – a Harbour Cruise for everyone

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Kerala Connections brochure

We are delighted to announce that we now have a brand new Kerala Connections brochure.  This brochure features a number of new accommodation options – including a double page spread of homestays in Kerala.  It also has some new tours - we are hoping that some of our Special Interest tours including Wildlife Adventure, Culinary Tour of Kerala and South India by Rail will be popular.  There are lots of great new images of South India including some double page spreads.  If you had previously asked for the new brochure it has already been posted to you; if not and you would like a copy please ask us.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

General Strike

Today - 28 February - there is a general strike in India.  We do not know how this will affect our customers who are currently travelling with us - but rest assured that we and our local agent will do everything we can to reduce the complications.  Yesterday we were working to alleviate issues which meant some customer were not able to board their houseboats as planned and others had to face some very early starts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sunday Telegraph article on Kerala

On 12 February the Sunday Telegraph had an article on Kerala – top tips, recommendations and traveller advice from readers. We were very pleased to see that almost all the properties and activities that were featured are offered by us. We were pleased to see Old Harbour and Brunton Boatyard in Cochin and Vivanta by Taj in Kovalam as these are some of our customers’ favourite hotels. We were also delighted to see some of our most popular homestays and guesthouses including Olive Brook, Vanilla County and Kalaketty Estate.

The backwaters and houseboats were of course featured but we would disagree with the one contributor that stated that ‘one night is enough’. That may be the case for some people but most of our customers prefer longer as one night only gives an afternoon of cruising and a very short circular route. A two or three night cruise allows you to get away from the main cruising channels, which these days can be very busy with other houseboats.

One writer commented that you no longer had to fly from Heathrow - and it was good to be able to fly from Manchester to Trivandrum via Dubai. Yes – Emirates operate from many of the UK’s regional airports including Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle. They also fly into all three of Kerala’s airports – not only Trivandrum but Cochin and Calicut too. Qatar Airways also fly from Manchester. So if Heathrow is not convenient there is no need to fly from there - we have been offering our customers flights from the regional airports for many years.

Below is a link to the article:


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Border now Open

We are pleased to report that things now seem to be back to normal on the border.  Our customers (along with everyone else) is crossing in both directions without complications. 

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