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

Express News Service

KOCHI: Those in the tourism industry are concerned about the slowdown in the arrival of foreign tourists to the state. However, one homestay owner from Kannur seems to be attracting a lot of attention among foreign tourists through his innovative packages based on responsible tourism. EK Harris, owner of Harris Beach Home in Kannur, is also booked for the next two months. He has put together various innovative packages that give the real village experience to the tourists who come to his place. The latest package he has launched is called the Village Food Experience package.

“The group is about bringing tourists into the kitchen of the locals and getting them to experience the style of cooking that is endemic to the place,” said Harris, who is basically a textile shop owner but came into the homestay enterprise by accident. “The real Kerala cannot be experienced in the cities. And what the tourists who come to our state want is to experience the real Kerala,” Harris said adding that when you give them the original taste of Kerala’s culture, cuisine and traditions, they will come back again and bring more people with them.

“Recently, I had a group of tourists who came in from Spain. I wanted to get them to experience the traditional sadya. So, I took them to the houses of the Kudumbasree members in our village. The tourists then joined the women as they collected the ingredients required for the sadya, prepared the dishes and finally helped them cook,” he said.

According to him, this not only benefits the tourists who get to experience the real Kerala and that too on a reasonable budget but also the locals who get some money. “For example, after the sadya, the Spanish tourists paid the women about Rs 14,000 for providing them with the wonderful lunch and experience,” said Harris. This is part of what responsible tourism is all about, he said. “Bringing in money not only for the homestay but also for the local people,” he said.

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In another incident, Harris explained how a group of German tourists gave 17,000 rupees to a group of students from a nearby school after the children performed Oppana for them. “There was a couple in the group who were celebrating their wedding. So, I told them I had a surprise for them. I got the students from the nearby school who won the first prize in Oppana to come and play for them. It was a surreal experience, according to the tourists,” Harris said adding that this financial year will be very good for tourists coming to my homes.

There is a story behind Harris’s pursuit of the homestay business as well. “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 the dress and told her about the local beach as well as inviting her for a cup of tea at my house. It’s surprising that she came,” said Harris.

“In my house, the tourist got to see how banana fritters are made. She was so impressed that she brought four of her tourists to my place. They were very impressed and went back home to bring more people with them the following year. This was the beginning and my enterprise is still going strong because of the packages I make every season,” he said.

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