THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The tourism department has always attempted to position the state as the ideal location for a Bollywood romantic musical but, as a popular inside joke in the department goes, the state is more in demand among filmmakers as a destination for horror flicks. The inside joke is that these filmmakers, instead of being lured by the state's hillstations, beaches and backwaters, are being bewitched by the department's deserted and forlorn guest houses.
The joke has been taken seriously and the department is busy clearing the cobwebs and shooing the bats away from its hitherto ignored and largely run down guest houses. "Our plan is to acquire ISO 22000 certification by the end of this fiscal," tourism director P. Balakiran said. The tourism department has 24 guest houses and 13 Yatri Nivas properties across the state. Becoming 'ISO 22000 certified' allows an entity to show their customers that they have a food safety management mechanism and a benchmarked hospitality infrastructure in place.
"The guest houses will acquire a completely new look. All aspects of the guest houses, right from the logo and signages to the cutlery and bed linen, will match international standards," Mr Balakiran said. Cashless transactions, in keeping with global hospitality standards, will soon be the norm in all guest houses and Yatri Nivas properties. Besides, in the main guest houses, the ones in major towns and cities in the state, will have wifi connection.
As it stands, guest houses are largely used by government employees or local tourists. The department now wants the guest houses to be used frequently by tourists, too. The tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran has already launched modish signages, menu card, table mat, linen, curtains, cultlery and crockery. Infrastructure facilities at different guest houses will be developed. A Yatri Nivas with 34 rooms will be built on the premises of the Kerala House at Kanyakumari. In short, the 'haunted house' image is in the process of being dumped.