Caravan tourism, which is one of the most sought-after modes of tourism in countries such as Australia, The United States of America and The United Arab Emirates, is fast catching up in India with states like Kerala and Maharashtra coming up with policies to tap into the luxury service sector.
Industry experts say, in the next five years, tour operators and luxury hotels in Kerala and Goa would be requiring more than 100 ‘motorhouses’ to cater to the demand.
“We have designed five caravans as per the requirements of our customers in the last four years. In the next 10 months, we are supposed to deliver 12 such recreational vehicles to our clients in Kerala. We are receiving several requests from luxury hotels in Goa for caravans,” said Jagadish Hiremath, managing director of Able Design, the only caravan manufacturing company in North Karnataka.
The company has also been designing special purpose vehicles for DRDO, ISRO and the health sector. Some of their modified ambulances and vehicles are being deployed on the China border.
Hiremath says caravan tourism is an untapped sector so far in India and has huge potential for growth.
“These vehicles can be solutions for enhancing tourism activities at places where setting up of permanent infrastructure is not possible. This can open up unlimited possibilities for enhancing tourism,” he said.
Industry experts say states like Kerala, Goa and Maharashtra have realised the potential of the sector and have come up with necessary policies.
Kerala has already decided to set up 100 caravan parks at tourist locations where the tourists can get power, drainage and sewage connections at nominal charges.
‘Tiger’ Ramesh Govindan, MD of LuxeCamper, said Karnataka is losing out in the race as the state government is not taking the necessary decisions.
“While the Kerala government came out with a government order on caravan parks and gave permission for the operation of my campervan in just 45 days, Karnataka tourism department is sitting on my file for recognizing our company as caravan tour-operator for the last three years. The government does not have a vision with regard to caravan tourism,” he said, adding that he is considering shifting base to Kerala next month.
He said the union government has to step in to ensure uniform road tax for caravans across India or introduce a single tariff/single permit for approved caravans. He said caravan tourism can generate employment in rural areas.
Hardeep Kaur, former manager at a star hotel, told DH that many foreign guests visiting Goa used to request for caravan services to visit Dandeli, Badami, Aihole, Hampi and other destinations in Karnataka as these locations lack ‘good accommodation’.
“Though our hotel management was interested in procuring caravans, we had to drop the idea at the last minute as there were no proper facilities for the caravans at those locations,” he said.
Tourism department director T Venkatesh could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.