Kerala's Tourism culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, have made the state one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Travel and Leisure also described Kerala as "One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century". Kerala now attract to many traveller and overtook the Taj Mahal to be the number one travel destination in Google's search trends for India. Kerala's beaches, backwaters, lakes, mountain ranges, waterfalls, ancient ports, palaces, religious institutions and wildlife sanctuaries are major attractions for both domestic and international tourists. The city of Kochi ranks first in the total number of international and domestic tourists in Kerala. Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination compared to other states in the country. In 1986 the government of Kerala declared tourism an important industry and it was the first state in India to do so. Marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, the government agency that oversees the tourism prospects of the state, resulted in the growth of the tourism industry. Many advertisements branded Kerala with the tagline Kerala, God's Own Country. Kerala tourism is a global brand and regarded as one of the destinations with highest recall.
Kerala Ayurvedic tourism has become very popular since the 1990s, and private agencies have played a notable role in tandem with the initiatives of the Tourism Department. Kerala is known for its ecotourism initiatives which include mountaineering, trekking and bird-watching programmes in the Western Ghats as the major activities. Asia's largest, and the world's third-largest, Naval Academy-Ezhimala Naval Academy-at Kannur is in Kerala. Idukki arch dam, the world's second arch dam, and Asia's first, is in Kerala. The major beaches are at Kovalam, Varkala, Fort Kochi, Cherai, Alappuzha, Payyambalam, Kappad, Muzhappilangad (South India's only drive-in beach) and Bekal. Popular hill stations are at Wayanad, Wagamon, Munnar, Peermade, Paithalmala of Idukki district, Nelliampathi and Ponmudi. Munnar is 4,500 feet above sea level and is known for tea plantations, and a variety of flora and fauna. Kerala's ecotourism destinations include 12 wildlife sanctuaries and two national parks: Periyar Tiger Reserve, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park, and Silent Valley National Park are the most popular among them. The Kerala backwaters are an extensive network of interlocking rivers (41 west-flowing rivers), lakes, and canals that centre around Alleppey, Kumarakom and Punnamada (where the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in August), Pathiramanal a small island in Muhamma . Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Mattancherry Palace are two nearby heritage sites.