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Invitation to dream

The Kerala Tourism Department has launched several fresh initiatives to woo domestic tourists



Doors wide open Explore Kerala through the year

With a richly endowed land, Kerala Tourism Department has a lot going for it straightaway. And through a set of fresh initiatives, the Department is trying to maximise the benefit of being in such an advantageous position. As part of this effort, it has chalked out programmes aimed at wooing the domestic tourist. First in line is a series of events, referred to as “road shows”.

Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai are on the target list. The Department believes that the Chennai Road Show, which took place recently at the ITC Park Sheraton, has fostered fruitful dialogues between hoteliers and tour operators from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This road show is a highly constructive exercise when seen in the light of a statistic provided by Sanjay Kaul, director, Kerala Tourism: “Thirty-six per cent of all domestic tourists to Kerala are from Tamil Nadu.”

No off-season

During the press conference that followed a display of Kerala’s cultural treasures (Mohiniattam, Kathakali, Kalaripayatu and Thiruvadirakali), Kaul said the accent was on making Kerala super-attractive during the off-season (April to September) with a slew of packages. Now, the off-season has been dubbed “Dream Season” (for details, log on to www.keralatourism.org/dreamseason).

The Department is also trying to promote ‘plantation tourism’ by bringing in more players within the ring. Subsidies are promised for anyone prepared to set up a tourist infrastructure connected with a plantation. “Wake Up To Malabar” seems a well-planned step towards opening up the lesser known areas of Kerala. The focus of this programme: Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod.

As a burgeoning Rs. 10,000 crore industry, tourism in Kerala has a staggering number of stakeholders. In such a situation, the trade-off between the benefits of tourism and its unpalatable side-effects is bound to be huge. But a lack of willingness to dilute the unacceptable by-products of tourism can lead to grave issues in the long run.

Mindful of this possibility, the department has come up with a “Responsible Tourism” (RT) charter for the state. This initiative, just three months old, has already covered Kovalam, Kumarakom, Thekkady and Waynad. What does RT signify? In a nutshell, it is about ensuring local communities benefit more from tourism and encouraging the primary and secondary stakeholders to shun activities that could damage the land.

It is aimed at protecting the social, cultural, economic and ecological matrix of a place. “One of the key objectives of RT is ensuring that the products required for running a hotel comes from the local communities,” said Kaul.

Joining hands with the Indian wing of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT), Kerala is expected to host the Second International Conference on Responsible Tourisms in Destinations in March, 2008.

For more information about these and other programmes, visit keralatourism.org.

PRINCE FREDERICK

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