For tourists, Kottayam is synonymous with Kumarakom. Kottayam beyond Kumarakom is still a vacuum for international travelers. Even for domestic tourists and locals, there are only a handful of attractions. These include churches in and around the city and the renowned temples that form an integral part of pilgrimage to Sabarimala, attracting numerous pilgrims. Presently, the tourist activities of Kottayam district including the award winning Responsible Tourism initiative has been centered on the 10 sq km radius around Kumarakom.
But beyond that, Kottayam has several little known tourist spots, all scattered in the district. It varies from the charming backwater villages to places of un-spoilt beauty in the high ranges. The district offers a plethora of heritage, culture, lifestyle, traditions, rituals and festivals for the discerning tourist. But there have been little coordinated efforts to promote the varied attractions that Kottayam has to offer so far. Local private travel agencies are conducting their own tour packages in their regional pockets, which are offered seasonally.
In 2006, the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), Kottayam came out with a small but first of its kind initiative called 'Unseen Kottayam' which was a handbook on the lesser-known destinations of the district. The first innovative tour package for experiencing the rural life of the district was offered by the 'Village Life Experience' package under the Responsible Tourism initiative in Kumarakom.
A professional brand helps to identify and differentiate a destination. Professional branding creates, maintains and promotes a distinct image of a tourist destination in the travel market. 'Discover Kottayam' is the comprehensive effort to professionally brand Kottayam district and to offer a basketful of attractions and activities for the travelers to choose from. 'Discover Kottayam' is a process to bring together the products the district has to offer, stakeholders and service providers as well as the local community in a professional way. The ultimate aim is to offer tourists a quality visitor experience and benefits to the local community from tourism initiatives.