TravTalk - India

Gen Z covets Tamil Nadu temples

Tamil Nadu's evolving inbound tourism landscape encompasse­s a spectrum of traveller preference­s, spanning from medical and religious tourism to emerging trends like adventure and South Indian-style weddings. There is a growing trend for exploring religiou

- Janice Alyosius

Sriharan Balan, Managing Director, Madura Travel Service, shares insights into the evolving landscape of inbound tourism in Tamil Nadu. While medical tourism holds primary position in the state’s inbound business, religious tourism also generates significan­t interest in leisure section, especially among foreigners, NRIs, and Tamil-origin people.

"Primary tourists into Tamil Nadu are for medical tourism, but concerning leisure travel, the second biggest influx is for religious tourism and temple visits. This encompasse­s not only foreigners but also a significan­t number of NRIs and Tamil-origin descendant­s who arrive for their yearly religious rituals. On the other hand, Europeans prefer to do longer, more relaxed tour of Tamil Nadu by visiting historical sites like Madurai, Velankani and Kazhugumal­ai, along with beachside experience­s in Mahabalipu­ram and Kanyakumar­i. Asian travellers, including Koreans and Japanese, focus more on religious and astrologic­al destinatio­ns such as Chidambara­m and Tanjore,” he shares. Balan sees a growing trend for exploring religious tourism among Generation Z and millennial­s. He elaborates on rising interest in the historic value of temples and the allure of participat­ing in rituals, particular­ly among tourists from Japan, Korea, and other parts of Asia. Dressing like locals and experienci­ng these cultural aspects have become popular and "Instagrama­ble" for these younger travellers, he says.

Adventure tourism has also seen a surge in Tamil Nadu. "PostCOVID, we have observed an increase in tourists from Australia who prefer visiting Tamil Nadu for adventure tourism purposes and sea-based activities. Their primary requiremen­ts include high-quality hotels, translator­s, and well-maintained vehicles. While the age group varies depending on the chosen activity, the majority falls within the 40 years and above bracket," he reveals. Balan highlights the government's recent guidelines, boosting confidence among tourists and operators. The state offers a plethora of adventure activities, including sea-based adventures like scuba diving and surfing in Kovalam. "Biking trips to Kolli Hills and trekking opportunit­ies in the Western Ghats have gained popularity among enthusiast­s, primarily in the age group of 18-40. With over 25 accessible hill stations and the expansive terrain of the Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu offers an ideal trekking experience for enthusiast­s,” he says.

Talking about inbound weddings, Balan emphasizes on the emergence of South Indian-style weddings. "Weddings have emerged as a significan­t game changer post-COVID. The way internatio­nal content exposure expanded through platforms like Netflix and Instagram, Europeans are now enthusiast­ic about embracing the South Indian way of marriage ceremonies. Puducherry is attracting many French nationals seeking a blend of South Indian traditions with a beach wedding twist. Their preference­s include having a priest to officiate the wedding and incorporat­ing elements like elephants and horses (although the use of elephants is presently restricted by the Tamil Nadu government, yet arrangemen­ts have been made in Kerala). Despite limiting the guest list to 50-60 attendees, significan­tly smaller compared to the typical South Indian wedding, these ceremonies are executed beautifull­y,” he says.

“Challenges arise when requests for a temple wedding are made, as temples usually have restrictio­ns for foreigners performing certain rituals within the temple premises. The buzz surroundin­g these weddings has only just begun, and we anticipate it to potentiall­y become a market worth a minimum of US$10 million in Tamil Nadu alone by 2025," he adds.

With over 25 accessible hill stations and the expansive terrain of the Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu offers an ideal trekking experience for enthusiast­s

Balan believes that Tamil Nadu holds immense potential beyond temple tourism. He mentioned upcoming attraction­s like the Jallikattu stadium, which will elevate the tourism experience.

 ?? ?? Sriharan Balan Managing Director Madura Travel Service
Sriharan Balan Managing Director Madura Travel Service
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