Kannur homestay entrepreneur shows way ahead for Kerala tourism- The New Indian Express

Express news service

KOCHI: Tourism industry officials have lamented the slowdown in foreign tourist arrivals in the state. However, one homesteader from Kannur seems to be attracting a lot of attention from foreign tourists with his innovative offerings based on responsible tourism. EK Harris, owner of Harris Beach Home in Kannur, is also booked for the next two months. He has come up with various innovative packages that give the tourists who come to his place a real village experience. The latest package he has released is called the Village Food Experience Package.

“It involves taking a group of tourists into a local kitchen and having them experience the local style of cooking,” said Harris, who is essentially a textile shop owner but ended up at the accommodation quite by accident. “The real Kerala cannot be experienced in cities. And tourists who come to our state want to experience the real Kerala,” said Harris, adding that once you give them an authentic taste of Kerala’s culture, cuisine and traditions, they will keep coming back, not just bringing more people with them.

“Recently I had a group of tourists that came from Spain. I wanted them to experience traditional sadiya. So, I took them to the home of the Kudumbasree participants in our village. There, the tourists joined the women in collecting the ingredients for the sadiya, preparing the food and finally helping in the cooking,” he said.

According to him, this not only benefits the tourists who can experience the real Kerala and that too on a reasonable budget, but also the locals who earn money. “For example, after sadiya, Spanish tourists paid the women about Rs 14,000 to give them a lavish lunch and also an experience,” Harris said. He added that it is part of responsible tourism. “We bring money not only for accommodation with a family, but also for local residents,” he said.

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In another incident, Harris explained how a group of tourists from Germany presented a group of students at a nearby school with Rs 17,000 after the children performed an oppan for them. “There was a couple in the group who were celebrating their wedding anniversary. So I told them I had a surprise for them. I got students from a nearby school who had won first place in Oppan to come and perform for them. According to the tourists, it was a surreal experience,” said Harris, adding that this financial year will be very good in terms of the number of tourists to my accommodation.

Harris’ foray into the backyard business also has its own story. “I’m basically a textile shop owner. It all started when an English tourist came to my shop to buy a dress. I helped her choose a dress and told her about the local beach and invited her to my home for a cup of tea. It’s amazing that she came,” Harris said.

“At my home, a tourist had the opportunity to see how banana breadcrumbs are made. She was so impressed that she brought four of her tourists to me. They were impressed and returned home to bring more people the following year. This was the beginning and my event is still going because of the kits I come up with every season,” he added.

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