While Kerala Tourism may need no introduction the new efforts to stimulate a higher footfall must be given its due. Prateek Pardeshi looks at the ‘Keravan Kerala’ initiative banking on custom caravans.

The world is opening up and the traveller is hungry to explore the beautiful trails this country has to offer! Ready to move out of their comfort zones after being forced to stay indoors for a better part of the last two pandemic marred years, the tourist hotspots are drawing in traffic. To boost tourism several state tourism boards across the country are leaving no stone unturned. Then why would ‘God’s Own Country’ with its pristine surroundings including the famous backwaters fall out of the reckoning. Responding to the call for safer personal mobility options, caravans are fast turning the preferred mode of option for a group of travellers looking at these minivans with personalised options across price points. Tweeted P. A. Mohamed Riyas, Minister of Tourism, Kerala, “Caravan Tourism is a new experience that will put Kerala’s pandemic-battered tourism on the growth trajectory, and the response from the stakeholders to the initiative has been encouraging. Tourist Caravans are also a safe mode of travel for holidaying families in a world where safety is the most important aspect.”

Following suit after the State tourism Board Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) announced they ‘Motorhome’ tasking its authorised caravan vendor to in turn lease the vehicles for customised itinerary Motorhome, the Kerala tourism Board has also drafted a Caravan tourism policy. The policy aims to establish a broad framework for the development and promotion of caravan tourism in Kerala, primarily in the private sector, by incentivising the purchase of caravans. The business potential includes establishment of caravan parks, by standard operating processes and procedures for its operations, approval mechanisms, and so forth.

Kerala Tourism has found a partner in Pinnacle Industries Limited, known for automotive seating systems, interiors, and building vehicles like ‘Office On Wheels’. The company will work in synergy with the State Board to launch a premium range of vehicles tasked with helping to promote and revitalise tourism in the state akin to the pre-Covid19 era. Several motorhomes will be released over the coming months under this partnership. Speaking on the sidelines of the Kerala Keravan launch, Sachin Deshmukh, Executive Director, Pinnacle Industries Ltd., opined, “Caravan and recreational vehicle tourism is set to bring in exponential growth to the much-affected travel and tourism industry.” Of the opinion that the vehicles offer not just a variety of amenities, comfort and luxury as key USPs, but also offer unmatched flexibility and freedom to travel at one’s own pace, explore, and minimise the perceived risks associated with being other modes of public transport for transit. “We have designed this motorhome keeping in mind the comfort and convenience of end-users while ensuring the highest design and functional aesthetics,” he claimed.

The caravan configurations

The Pinnacle Motorhome is based on the Force Traveller model T2 4020 and has been approved by ARAI under AIS 124 requirements. Claimed to offer a smaller turning radius compared to other conventional caravans, it is designed to allow a better driving experience so that tourists can enjoy God’s own country in its full glory. Be it the pristine backwaters or the narrow approach roads. The Recreational Vehicle (RV) offers a provision of seating arrangements and sleeping provision that can hold nine seats convertible into two beds. The objective is to provide greater comfort while travelling and staying in the vehicle on the go.

As per Deshmukh, the caravans offer an unmatched class of quality that is built to complement one’s taste matched by a combination of modern and attractive interiors and exteriors. The RV contains a back couch that can be transformed into a queen-sized bed, as well as a convertible bed at the front for sleeping. Focused on prospects and usability, Pinnacle Industries projects an estimated 250 vehicles to be delivered to Kerala Tourism Board over the next 12 months. “Overall we expect to do 400-500 motorhomes /caravans/recreational vehicles this year,” he informed.

Caravan policy

Kerala tourism has two major objectives under the caravan policy. The ‘Tourism Caravans’ and ‘Caravan Parks’. The vehicles are known to be specially built for travel, leisure and accommodation fall under the category of Tourism caravans. places have been earmarked as caravan parks for tourists park the Caravan either for a night or an extended stay cation.

P. A. Mohamed Riyas, Minister of Tourism, Kerala.

The Tourism Caravans include rigid as well as towed/trailer caravans. In the case of rigid Caravans, the propelling mechanism and accommodation facilities will be built as a single unit. However, in trailers, the accommodation facilities shall be made up of a separate unit which will be towed by a suitable vehicle for transportation. The ideal length for the Caravan shall not exceed 8.5 m. Further, these caravans must be legally certified. A specific approval mechanism has been put in place to the commercial operation of caravans under the aegis of the Motor Vehicles Department, Government of Kerala. The latter shall formulate all the necessary procedures for approval.

The Automotive Research Association Of India (ARAI), Pune with the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Government of India has also finalised procedures that states like Kerala must adhere to in line with the AIS:124 regulation and for compliance to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR) act notified under CMVR. The CMVR Type Approval of specific make and model of Caravans, for compliance to AIS 124 notified under the CMVR rules, need to be directly obtained either by the OEM or the caravan application bodybuilder concerned, from the approved testing agencies as per Rule 126 of CMVR. Further incentives for investments are expected to be introduced by the Government to encourage and promote the niche tourism by product, (Refer box-Tourism Caravan Incentives)

Caravan parks

Caravan Parks will be equipped with the required infrastructure to suit the needs of caravans and tourists and end-users. These are expected to be created under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model with the configuration varying from location to location however the core qualities would stay the same. The overall goal of the creation of caravan convertible to maximise the tourism potential of new and undiscovered regions.

Care will be taken to ensure that the parks are built at a safe and secure location to provide a hassle-free and stress-free atmosphere for tourists and visitors. For the parking of caravans and towing vehicles, a drive-in area and platform with sufficient dimensions and free of general traffic flow must be provided. Turning circles must be built such that a caravan and the towing vehicle can turn without interfering with the general caravan park area.

Also read, Pinnacle Industries launches EKA

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