Ayurvedic spas in Kerala hit by dwindling tourist arrivals

An ayurvedic spa in a resort in Kerala

According to Ayurveda experts, monsoon (June-September) is the best season for rejuvenation therapy as the atmosphere remains dust-free, cool, opening the pores of the body to the maximum, making it most receptive to herbal oils and massage.

Dr R Rajesh, senior Ayurvedic physician of Kochi-based Softouch Health Care, which provides Ayurvedic physicians and trained therapists to well-known hotels in Kerala including those of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, said the number of tourists who come for wellness treatment at the Ayurvedic centres in the hotels has declined.

He said Softouch used to get regular guests from Germany, Switzerland, US and Russia but the number has reduced following the economic recession. "Now guests go for hard bargaining on treatments," he said.

However, there was no dip in numbers of chronic patients coming for the traditional Ayurvedic treatment offered by Coimbatore-based Arya Vaidya Pharmacy (AVP) and Kottakal Arya Vaidya Sala (AVS) at the respective treatment centres and hospitals, AVP Managing Director Dr P R Krishna Kumar said.
Due to dwindling number of visitors, many spas and treatment centres which had sprung up overnight and had been charging heavily for treatment, have started closing down, Kumar said.

With the fall in tourist arrivals, the rejuvenation therapies and packages normally undertaken during the monsoon season could also take a beating, said Dr D R Sadath, Chief Medical Officer, Kerala Ayurveda.
Industry sources said there can be a 30-40 per cent dip in income in the sector compared to last year in Kerala. In Kovalam, a hotspot of foreign tourists, about 30 per cent decrease in income is feared.
There has been about 50 per cent fall in arrival of the visitors which has forced many spas and centres to raise treatment costs to offset some losses, the sources said.
The number of IT professionals visiting the Ayurvedic centres has also witnessed a fall, Sadath said.
Over 50 per cent of the IT crowd used to come to the Kerala Ayurveda centre at Bangalore for various treatments for ailments like Spondylitis and back pain. "That was a regular source of income. Every three or six months they used to undertake such treatments. Now, they approach ayurvedic clinics for emergency treatment only," he said.

Kerala Ayurveda, which has three such treatment centres in the state at Kochi, Aluva and Kasaragod, had earned about Rs 29 lakh in the peak monsoon season in July-August last year.
AVP, which has tied up with Hindustan Lever for running 48 'Ayush' (spa) clinics at Chennai, Bangalore, Maharashtra, Delhi and Hyderabad and Kochi, is also expecting a fall in its income as number of visitors at these centres have declined, AVP sources said.

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