A new liquor policy, new adventure zones: Here's what the tourism sector wants

Kochi: In a presentation to the CM of the state, the Tourism Department outlined its major plans for the next five years. Doubling the number of international tourists, increasing tourism footfalls by 50 per cent in the domestic sector and creating 400,000 new jobs in the sector were the main points of the plan. It was also proposed to revive the sagging Kerala Tourism brand and find out new pastures for increasing income from tourism.

Some of the other packages include: making Kochi the art capital of India, introducing adventure in forest tourism packages, enhancing the position of Malabar in the tourism map, enhancing the Muziris heritage tourism project and so on. While Kerala is now mostly visited by senior tourists from the international circuit, the department wants to attract younger tourists and create adventure packages for them in the state. 

The department also feels that Malabar needs significant investment for tourism and that Thalassery should also have a heritage tourism program in the lines of the Muziris project.

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Kochi would have round-the-year art programs and art galleries that promote modern art. This would encourage tourists around the year. Since more than 55 per cent of international tourists to Kerala are from developed nations, promoting Kerala as an art destination would increase the number of tourists to the state, the department reasons. 

While more crafts villages are also needed, more resorts and hotels would also help the cause of the Muziris program which is not believed to be picking up well, though it had a good start. 

Attracting more service providers would:

Increase the number of hotels and resorts to twice the current number 

Increase classified homestays to another thousand

Introduce 500 houseboats in the Ashtamudi-Malabar backwaters

Allow entrepreneurs in 50 estates to venture into tourism

Create 30 trekking routes, 30 camping facilities and 10 adventure and athletic centers

To increase the number of domestic tourists, packages have been proposed for a honeymoon, family, and corporate clients. Chartered tourist trains and special coaches in inter-state trains would also be introduced. More chartered air carriers have to land from the UK and Russia to increase international travelers, the department said. This would solve the complaint that the state does not have enough air connectivity.

The Pinarayi government had assured 20 lakh new jobs in five years. One-fifth of that would be filled in by the tourism department. The presentation also highlighted that the current liquor policy, lack of coordination between various departments in the state and tardy progress in garbage disposal were affecting tourism badly. The CM assured speedy action in these areas. 

Other suggestions

Create a coordination committee with the CM as its head to coordinate various departments

Open up forests for eco-adventure tourism

Devise friendlier liquor policies

Start measures to increase cleanliness

Ease norms to enhance tourism in estates

Departments such as Irrigation, KSEB and Plantation Corporation need to device tourism programs.

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