Backwater Tourism has created positive impact in the foreigners
mind in promoting Alleppey as a Tourist Destination
- An empirical study at Alappuzha in Kerala


By

Prasanth MK
MBA, PGDCM
Assistant Professor
Institute of Management and Technology
Punnapra, Alappuzha, Kerala

Suresh Kumar N.
B.Tech, M.Tech
Associate Professor and Head of the Department
College of Engineering and Management
Punnapra, Alappuzha, Kerala

Ajith Sundaram
B.Tech, MBA, MS (UK), (MSc Psychology), (PhD)
Asst. Professor
RVS Institute of Management Studies
Kannampalayam, Coimbatore
 


I. Abstract

This research is carried so that the reality of tourism industry in Alappuzha is understood.  Most importantly, a qualitative survey is carried out to understand what tourists and foreigners expect from the tour operators and the boat owners. Another qualitative survey of managers and officials of tourism industry is done to uncover their thinking towards house boat. 

The impact of Backwater cruise on foreign tourist in promoting Alappuzha is an empirical study aimed at identifying the various parameters of foreign tourist that influence house boat cruise. The study came to the conclusion that the natural beauty of house boat cruise in Alappuzha helps the foreigners to revitalize the thoughts and feelings and the overall opinion about the house boat cruise in the backwaters of Alappuzha is good.

II. Introduction

In developing countries, tourism industry is often one of the important most industries that attract large amounts of hard currencies from more developed countries.  On the way of development, India is no exception.  In early 1990s to the mid of the decade, the number of tourists coming to India increased by 30 percents.  However, there was a decline of 10 percent from 2000 to 2011.  There are several causes that are clear: 

* Infrastructure of tourism industry in India is not as good as those of other countries in region.  Low quality service could be found everywhere.
* Lack of information or instructions to places of beauty that tourists want to go
* External causes like starting effects of the financial crisis in Asia and the declining of other currencies in the region, making it expensive to go to India.

Yet, tourism industry is coming back to be attractive in the year 2000 with the number of tourists increased by 15 percent.

Tourism has moved to be the one of the major source of income to India. Tourism in India is going through a significant phase of growth and development. The growth in Indian tourism industry both in terms of Tourist arrival and foreign exchange earnings is remarkable. Tourism is promoted by the government both state and national level because it supposedly contributes to creating wealth at the national and local levels. Tourism also generates enough revenue to maintain and preserve the heritage and historical monuments which would otherwise have fallen into rapid dilapidation. Kerala is the southern-most state of India. It enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Asia. 

The government of Kerala has projected tourism as an engine of economic growth and an instrument for eliminating poverty, solving unemployment problem, opening up new fields of activity and the uplifting status of livelihood of the people. Kerala being moving to be a totally consumer state, development of tourism has changed as one of the major source of income. Kerala is fondly referred to as 'God's Own Country'. ALLEPPEY, also known as "THEVENICE OF EAST", is one of the best attractions of Kerala and this place is well known for its natural beauty Alleppey is strongly connected by waterways to various other parts of Kerala, including the famous tourist destination, Kuttanaad. Tourism and the hospitality industry can develop only with the cooperation and wholehearted patronage of a friendly and hospitable host community. It is with this objective that the Department of Tourism is envisaging a massive awareness campaign in the State. One of the major attractions of backwater tourism is house boating. Here the study aims to find out the satisfaction level of the tourist relating to the back water tourism in Alleppey, Kerala. For this, the data has been collected from tourists both domestic and international who had visited Alleppey. The questions were more concentrated on the satisfaction level of visitors relating to the various facilities available in the house boat. Success of backwater depends upon the level of facilities available in the houseboat. The houseboats in Alappuzha are not only competitive but also luxurious and comfortable in all aspects, satisfying the tourists by all means. They offer the ideal and the perfect blend of convenience and efficiency to tourists. It helps the tourists in discovering the enchanting Kerala backwater and lively villages of Kerala; apart from that these are extremely eco-friendly. The facilities provided by houseboats at Alappuzha are highly comfortable and luxurious and conducted in a good manner. Tourists are given protection and their needs are satisfied by the tour conductors in houseboats. By analyzing the responses the findings are made and on the basis of the findings suggestions are made to promote the backwater tourism in Alleppey.

III. Tourism scenario in Kerala:

Kerala, located on the south-western tip of India, enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Asia. Fondly referred to as 'God's Own Country', Kerala was selected by the National Geographic Traveler as one of the 50destinations of a lifetime and one of the thirteen paradises in the world.

With the advantage that it is the place where the government locates, Kerala is the destination for many investors who are ambitiously seeking opportunities to make money.  Besides, it is very famous for its rich culture with many historical and historic places as well as for its tranquil scenery. As the result, more and more foreigners are coming to Kerala for the purpose not only of visiting but also of living permanently. 

IV. Backwater tourism in Kerala.

Travel on Backwater Cruises in Kerala with Kerala Backwater and experience a delightful journey to a land where earth, sea and sky come together in harmony. The backwaters of Kerala are a series of interconnected waterways, lakes, inlets and riverine estuaries that form an intermeshed network along the coast of Kerala, India. The local people of the Kerala backwaters, travel on these waters and carry out their traditional occupations, such as farming and fishing onits fertile banks. The scenic beauty of the backwaters has also led to its being developed as a tourist destination in recent times. Traveling in the backwater cruise is very enjoyable. The Kerala backwaters are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Seacoast (known as the Malabar Coast) of Kerala state in southern India. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both manmade and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state. The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats range. The backwaters have a unique ecosystem - freshwater from the rivers meets the seawater from the Arabian Sea. In certain areas, such as the Vembanad Kayal, where a barrage has been built near Kumarakam, salt water from the sea is prevented from entering the deep inside, keeping the fresh water intact. Such fresh water is extensively used for irrigation purposes Vembanad Kayal is the largest of the lakes, covering an area of 200 sq.km, and bordered by Alappuzha (Alleppey), Kottayam, and Eranakulam districts. Backwater cruises in Kerala are carried out on large converted traditional boats. These boats called "Kettuvalloms"were traditionally used as grain barges, to transport the rice harvested in the fertile fields alongside the Kerala Backwaters. Converted to accommodate tourists, the houseboats have a sleeping area, with toilets, as a dining area and a sit out on the deck. In house boats tourist can rest at ease on a houseboat at night and observe the beautiful countryside while sitting on the deck during the day. Food is cooked on board the houseboat by the accompanying staff. The facility available in the houseboats makes an atmosphere in which the tourist can have a relaxing time seeing the birds and aquatic life along the banks of the Kerala backwaters. Tourist can also see the local people in villages along the banks of Kerala backwaters carry out their daily routine of farming and fishing as they pass by on Backwater cruises.

V. Objectives

To find out the overall opinion about the house boat cruise in the backwaters of Alappuzha
To find out the nativity of Tourists inflow in backwater tourism.
To study the impact of house boat cruise in Alappuzha on foreign tourist.

VI. Hypothesis:

H1: There is significant difference between married and unmarried with respect to overall opinion about house boat
H2: There is significant difference between age group with respect to overall opinion about house boat
H3: There is association between age group and frequency of   visit to foreign tours
H4: There is association between educational qualification and frequency of visit of foreigners
H5: There is association between family size and frequency of visit of foreigners
H6: There is significant difference between mean ranks towards impact of house boat cruise on foreigners.

VII. Scope of the Study:

The scope for research on tourism is unending since the industry is greatly involving people, product and services. The impact of tourism is another area where there is need for regular study and research. Continuous research and tie to time innovations alone will pave way for achieving sustainability in tourism. Customer's satisfaction is influenced by the availability of various\customer services; the quality of customer service has become a major concern of all business. Failure to pay attention to influential attributes in choice intention may result in a customer's negative evaluation, and may lead to unfavorable word-of-mouth. Backwater tourism comes under ecotourism. Government of Kerala wants to provide the best service to the tourist without disturbing the nature at any cost. So a study to analyze the satisfaction level of tourist related to the facility available under backwater tourism is very important. The data has been collected both from international as well as domestic tourists who had visited house boats. The study also confines to analysis the problems and prospects of human resources in the Backwater tourism industry.

VIII. Research Methodology:

The study is descriptive and analytical in nature. The various elements of research design are briefed below

a) Database Design

The primary data will be collected from foreign tourists who are coming to Alappuzha to enjoy house boat cruise. The secondary data will be collected from government records, other official records journals, text books and internet portals

b) Measurement Design

The data was collected by using questionaire.Nominal, ordinal , interval and ratio scales were used depending upon the data collected

c) Sampling Design

The simple random sampling is used for the study. The total sample size is 100 and the samples were collected from foreign tourists who visited Alappuzha in the month of june 2 to june 29 2012

d) Statistical design :

Appropriate mathematical and statistical tool were used for analysis

IX. Analysis Procedure

The data was analyzed using statistical package for social science (SPSS V 12.0).Descriptive statistics such as mean and standard deviation were generated to provide an overview of the data .Frequency distribution was used to describe the general characteristics of foreign tourists. The multiple regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between dependent variable(Overall perception of Foreign tourist ) and independent  variables (Age ,Gender, Nativity ,Education ,Occupation ,Marital Status ,Number of members in the family ,Frequency of visit  to foreign tours ,Frequency of  visit  to  the backwaters of Alappuzha in House boat ).T test was used to find out the relationship between married and unmarried foreign tourist with respect to overall opinion about house boat. Anova and Duncan Multiple range test is used to establish the relationship between different age groups with respect to overall opinion about house boat.Chisquare Test was used to find out the relationship between age group, educational qualification of foreigners and frequency of visit to foreign countries. Friedman Test was used to find out significant difference between mean ranks towards impact of house boat cruise on foreigners

X. Limitations of the study:

* There are certain limitations of these project report which are listed below;
* The major constraint of the study was the availability of the time
* Some of the foreigners did not co-operate with the survey.
* Sample size for the study is low.
* There are chances that the respondent's bias may also reduce the effectiveness of the data collected.
* The result of the study cannot be generalized, because the data analysis and interpretations are based on the response of the respondents, which reflect their state of mind at the time of response
* The study is done during off season.

X. Results and Discussion

Descriptive Analysis

Nativity

Frequency

Percentage

South Africa

2

2.0

American

8

8.0

German

6

6.0

Israel

10

10.0

Spain

10

10.0

Other African nations

2

2.0

UK

62

62.0

Total

100

100


From the above table it is clear that British Nationals outnumbered other nationalities in terms of their inflow into Alappuzha to enjoy the house boat cruise in the month of June 2012

XII. Inferential Analysis on Sample

Differences between two groups in the mean scores of variables are studied using the overall opinion of the foreigners t test are discussed in this section. Also Chi-square test, Correlation Analysis and Regression Analysis are used to verify the hypothesis stated in the first chapter.

HYPOTHESIS 1

Null Hypothesis: There is no significance difference between marital statuses with respect to overall opinion about house boat

Table 1:  t test for significant difference between marital statuses with respect to overall opinion of house boat

Marital status

Mean

SD

t value

P value

Married

31.59

2.48

2.058

0.042*

Un-married

32.50

0.51


Note: * denotes significance at 5% level

Since P value is less than 0.05, the null hypothesis is rejected at 5% percent level of significance. Hence concluded that there is significant difference between married and unmarried with respect to overall opinion about house boat. Mean level overall opinions about house boat of unmarried foreigners are better than married foreigners. The reason is the unmarried foreigners get more enjoyment and exposure than the married in the house boat cruise

HYPOTHESIS 2

Null Hypothesis: There is no significance difference between age group with respect to overall opinion about house boat

Table 2 ANOVA for significant difference between age group with respect to overall opinion about house boat

Age Group in years

Mean

SD

t value

P Value

Up to 18

33.00b

.000

6.094

0.001**

19 35

31.69b

2.143

36-50

32.76b

1.200

Above 50

30.38a

2.729

Total

31.88

2.100


Note: 1.** denotes significant at 1% level
2. Different alphabet between age groups of foreigners denotes significant at 5% level using Duncan Multiple range test

Since P value is less than 0.01, the null hypothesis is rejected at 1 percent level of significance. Hence concluded that there is significant difference between age group with respect to overall opinion about house boat. Based on Duncan Multiple Range Test (DMRT), the age group of above 50 is significantly differ with other age groups at 5% level with regard to opinion on House Boat but there is no significant difference between  age groups below 18,19-35 and 36-50 .This is due to the fact that the  life style and thinking pattern of young people is different from the aged .

HYPOTHESIS 3

Null Hypothesis: There is no association between age group and frequency of visit to foreign tours

Table 8 Chi-square test for association between age group and frequency of  visit to foreign tourist

 Age

Often  go to foreign tours

Total

Chi-squar e Value

P value

Once in a year

Twice in a year

Once in 2 years

Up to 18

3

(30.0%)

[6.1%]

7

(70.0%)

[20.6%]

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

10

 

18.623

0.005**

19 35

27

(55.1%)

[55.1%]

13

(26.5%)

[38.2%]

9

(18.4%)

[52.9%]

49

 

36-50

14

(56.0%)

[28.6%]

10

(40.0%)

[29.4%]

1

(4.0%)

[5.9%]

25

 

Above 50

5

(31.3%)

[10.2%]

4

(25.0%)

[11.8%]

7

(43.8%)

[41.2%]

16

 

Total

49

 

34

 

17

 

100

 


Note: 1. The value within (   ) refers to Row Percentage
2. The value within [   ] refers to Column Percentage
3. ** denotes significant at 1% level

Since P value is less than 0.01, the null hypothesis is rejected at 1 percent level of significance. Hence conclude that there is association between age group and frequency of   visit to foreign tours In the age group of 18-35 and 36-50, they used to go for more foreign tours than other age groups. Hence the target group where the promotional measures of promoting alleppey has to be concentrated on the above age groups since this age group belongs to the working class

HYPOTHESIS 4

Null Hypothesis: There is no association between educational qualification of foreigners and frequency of visit of foreigners

Table 4 Chi-square test for association between Educational Qualification and Frequency of visit of foreigners

 Education

Often  go to foreign tours

Total

Chi-square Value

P value

Once in a year

Twice in a year

Once in 2 years

Under Graduate

16

(100.0%)

[32.7%]

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

16

(100.0%)

[16.0%]

144.102

0.000**

Graduate

33

(66.0%)

[67.3%]

17

(34.0%)

[50.0%]

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

50

(100.0%)

[50.0%]

Post Graduate

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

17

(100.0%)

[50.0%]

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

17

(100.0%)

[17.0%]

Professional

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

17

(100.0%)

[100.0%]

17

(100.0%)

[17.0%]

Total

49

34

17

100


Note: 1. The value within (   ) refers to Row Percentage
2. The value within [   ] refers to Column Percentage

Since P value is less than 0.01, the null hypothesis is rejected at 1 percent level of significance. Hence conclude that there is association between educational qualification and frequency of visit of foreigners. The majority of foreigners who we had associated went for foreign tours at least once in a year. In developed nations they have a habit of going for foreign tours once in a year and it is a part of their vibrant culture. Apart from that the basic qualification of  foreign tourists who opt for foreign tour is graduation

HYPOTHESIS 5

Null Hypothesis: There is no association between family size and frequency of visit of foreigners

Table 5 Chi-square test for number of members of the family of foreigners and frequency of  visit

 Family Size

Often  go to foreign tours

Total

Chi-squar e Value

P value

Once in a year

Twice in a year

Once in 2 years

2

31

(37.8%)

[63.3%]

34

(41.5%)

[100.0%]

17

(20.7%)

[100.0%]

82

(100.0%)

[82.0%]

22.847

0.000**

4

18

(100.0%)

[36.7%]

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

0

(.0%)

[.0%]

18

(100.0%)

[18.0%]

Total

49

34

17

100


Note: 1. The value within (   ) refers to Row Percentage
2. The value within [   ] refers to Column Percentage

Since P value is less than 0.01, the null hypothesis is rejected at 1 percent level of significance. Hence concluded that there is association between family size and frequency of visit of foreigners. The average family size of foreigners who visit the backwaters of Allappuzha is 2

HYPOTHESIS 6

Null Hypothesis: There is no significant difference between mean ranks towards  impact of house boat cruise on foreigners

Table 6 Friedman test for significant difference between mean ranks towards impact of house boat cruise on foreigners

Impact of house boat cruise on foreigners

Mean
Rank

Chi-square
Value

P value

House boat cruise rejuvinate thoughts and feelings of an individual

4.21

152.179

0.000**

House boat cruise measures the true color of natural beauty  

4.72

The food available in the houseboat portrays the natural food taste of  Kerala

3.05

The service of crew members of house boats is of good quality

4.72

The service provided by the tour operators  from the time of arrival till the completion of the cruise is found to be good

3.80

You have selected to come to Kerala especially Alappuzha  because to enjoy the joyful experience of house boat cruise

2.79

The beauty of nature ,services offered by crew members and tour operators  provide a very good value for money

4.72


Since P value is less than 0.01, the null hypothesis is rejected at 1 percent level of significance. Based on relative importance the various factors that plays pivotal role at the house boat cruise are the house boat cruise helps to enjoy the natural beauty of Alappuzha ,the service offered by the crew members of house boat is of good quality , the service offered by crew members are worthy, the house boat cruise rejuvenate and rejuvenate the thoughts and feelings of foreigners.

Multiple Regression Analysis of House boat on Demographic variables

Dependent variable  :  Perception of  House Boat  (Y)

Independent variables  : 

*
Age (X1)
* Gender (X2)
* Nativity (X3)
* Education (X4)
* Occupation (X5)
* Marital Status X6)
* Number of members in the family (X7)
* Frequency of visit  to foreign tours (X8)
* Frequency of  visit  to  the backwaters of Alleppey in House boat (X9)

Multiple R value  : 0.964
R Square value  : 0.929
F value    : 130.004
P value    : **0.000

Table 4.3.35 Variables in the Multiple Regression analysis

Variables

Unstandardized
co-efficient

SE of B

Standardized
co-efficient

t value

P value

X1

-.021

0.071

-0.014

-0.289

0.773

X2

-.058

0.122

-0.029

-0.479

0.633

X3

-.055

0.056

0.000

-0.984

0.328

X4

0.001

0.181

-0.042

0.000

1.000

X5

-0.113

0.130

-1.153

-0.872

0.385

X6

-5.166

0.285

-0.848

-18.126

0.000**

X7

-2.305

0.168

-1.849

-13.722

0.000**

X8

-5.175

0.290

0.029

-17.849

0.000**

X9

0.199

0.204

0.029

0.979

0.330

Constant

50.704

0.906

_________

55.957

0.000**


From the above table we can conclude that the overall opinion about house boat is more influenced by marital status, number of members in the family, frequency of visit to foreign tours.

I. Conclusion

The overall perception about house boat is more influenced by marital status and numbers of members in the family and at present the foreign tourist are satisfied with the house boat cruise.. The natural beauty of house boat cruise in Alappuzha helps the foreigners to rejuvenate the thoughts and feelings. Further, the service offered by the crew members of house boat is of good quality. The unmarried foreigners express reasonably good overall opinion than married foreigners with regard to house boat cruise. Apart from that the young people (aged between18-50) got more satisfaction level than the aged and the basic qualification of visiting foreign tourist is graduation. The average family size of foreigners visiting Alappuzha is two and more UK nationals visited Alappuzha than other nationalities.


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Prasanth MK
MBA, PGDCM
Assistant Professor
Institute of Management and Technology
Punnapra, Alappuzha, Kerala

Suresh Kumar N.
B.Tech, M.Tech
Associate Professor and Head of the Department
College of Engineering and Management
Punnapra, Alappuzha, Kerala

Ajith Sundaram
B.Tech, MBA, MS (UK), (MSc Psychology), (PhD)
Asst. Professor
RVS Institute of Management Studies
Kannampalayam, Coimbatore
 

Source: E-mail February 27, 2013

          

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