Vol. 4, Issue 3 (2017)
Study to understand the profile, taste and needs of visitors to the Oceanarium proposed to be set up at Kochi, Kerala, South India
Author(s): Sahadevan P
Abstract: Tourism is reckoned as one of the most dynamic economic sectors of Kerala. Realizing the economic significance of tourism, the State Government has initiated innovative programmes, which have resulted in placing Kerala at an enviable position among its counterparts in the country. Today, the State offers a wide variety of tourism attractions anchored on its natural splendour and cultural miscellany. The vast coastal reaches of the State, intermingled with lagoons, estuaries and backwaters, offers immense possibility to diversify backwater tourism. The rich cultural heritage, including traditional music and dance forms, alternative healthcare systems, martial arts and cuisine add to its attraction. Of late, the impetus on educational tourism with the objective of imparting awareness on the marine resources of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean has resulted in the concept of creating an oceanarium together with a Marine Biological Research Centre at Kochi, the vibrant city on the south-west coast of Indian peninsula, informally referred to as the ‘Gateway to Kerala’. As part of the demand estimation exercise, a survey of target visitors comprising foreign and domestic visitors was conducted. The principal objective of the study was to understand the profile, taste and needs of visitors to the proposed oceanarium. The respondents were drawn from all walks of life with varying income levels, spending capacity, and varying perceptions about the tourism facilities both existing and to be planned. Hence a random selection was done among the visitors of different age groups. For the purpose 220 visitors each from foreign and domestic sectors were identified at Kochi. All the identified visitors were administered with the questionnaire and personal discussions were held. The questionnaire templates were different for foreign and domestic tourists. The draft questionnaire was initially field tested and relevant improvements / modifications were carried out to make the process interactive and user friendly. The questionnaire was administered during the period from 10th August to 20th December 2013. Focused group discussions (FGD) were also conducted with identified target visitors and assessed market potential of the oceanarium. The results of the present study indicated that the proposed oceanarium should be high end, full family entertainment facility for varied profile of visitors. People are generally willing to spend for family entertainment options in a substantial way. It indicated the need for the development of themes which are compatible and complementary. There is a need for the integration with other compatible tourist destinations. The project should depict themes which are not common in this part of the world. The project should focus on environment, marine ecology, man and ocean. There is also a need to provide a wide range of social amenities. The observations of the present study may be useful in planning oceanariums in other parts of the country also.