In the West, it is pretty normal for families to own a caravan or even rent one for a road trip or a vacation. It is no news that caravan tourism is immensely popular in foreign countries, but the good news is, that this caravan culture has found its way in India as well! In fact, state governments are now pushing for it, especially with the ongoing pandemic.
Kerala recently introduced caravans and caravan parks to promote tourism in the state. V R Krishna Teja, director, Kerala Tourism revealed that as of now, about 150 people have registered for bringing in 350 caravans and around 90 people for bringing in around 120 caravan parks. Kerala opened its first caravan park in Vagamon, a hill station, as part of the state government’s new Caravan Tourism policy.
Earlier, Maharashtra and Goa had also introduced the concept of caravan tourism. Needless to say, this unique tourism model is all set to be a major eye-catcher in the tourism sector.
But what is this caravan tourism and why is there a growing demand for it? Let’s find out.
Caravan tourism is a new and exciting way to experiment with unconventional modes of transportation, which promotes touring with family to destinations where it could be difficult to find adequate hotel accommodation. Sachin Panchal, founder, Motohom – the official caravan vendors of Maharashtra Tourism, told The Indian Express that caravans give the freedom to live and travel hassle-free. You can decide where you want to settle, or sleep and whether to wake up to the sound of nature or next to the beach. It is a comfortable blend of travel, leisure and accommodation. In fact, the government has cited that currently there is an increase in demand for eco, adventure, wildlife and pilgrimage tourism. Since remote areas have a shortage of accommodation, caravan tourism holds the potential to meet this demand.
Now let’s understand why there is a growing demand for this kind of unique tourism. According to Panchal, the statistics show that because of Covid-19, people want to travel with a limited crowd, mainly with their family and close ones. To travel via caravan is the best way as it fulfills all those necessities. Jigyasu Joshi, co-founder, Carvaa India told the Indian Express that the curve is going only upward in the last two years. This is probably because of the health safety it provides, especially with the pandemic going on. Joshi added that people want to travel in a bubble and a caravan provides just that. The travellers believe that end-to-end connectivity and flexibility, and comfort are some of the key factors in favour of caravan tourism. Caravan solves the problem for those who want to experience the interiors of the place they want to travel to and connect with its locals.
In fact, with sustainability gaining so much importance among travellers over time, caravan tourism helps in reducing carbon footprints as well. Conventional tourism impacts the environment in more than one way. But, if you are travelling via caravans, there is limited space and limited resources. This limitation, itself, makes caravan tourism more eco-friendly. Explaining the same to The Indian Express, Tiger Ramesh, CEO, LuxeCamper, said that caravan tourism is very sustainable since even the locals benefit by providing hospitality services to caravan guests by providing food, and enriching them with local culture and activities.
Is this the future of travel in India?
Caravans could be the new travel trend, but there are many factors that are affecting the growth of this kind of tourism in the country. First of all, factors like lack of caravan products to road permits, need improvement to boost caravan tourism in India. A vehicle cannot be converted into a caravan unless the approval comes from the Automotive Research Association of India. According to Tiger Ramesh, caravans should be brought under a single license plate across India with one permit and they should be allowed to ply using a central road tax mechanism, like the GST. Adding to that, Sachin Panchal said that since caravans require huge investment, one needs support from the government in terms of marketing, promotion, subsidies, hybrid caravan parks, and financial support, where India is somewhere lagging behind.
If these hurdles are met, there is no reason why caravans cannot be the future of travel in India. Travellers no longer want to restrict themselves to hotel destinations and thus, creating awareness about the flexible caravans will only bring in more demand and eventually lead to more supply.