The two week long road journey called “Kerala Blog Express” for selected bloggers from around the world to begin on March 1. The road journey will start from south to the north of Kerala on a branded luxury bus that carries 25 bloggers selected through an online voting created by Kerala Tourism.
Kerala Blog Express will travel through destinations like Alappuzha, Kovalam, Varkala, Kumarakom, Thekkady, Munnar, Wayanad, Kochi and Bekal during the two-week journey. The selected bloggers will also be able to participate in activities like boating in the backwaters, experience Ayurvedic treatment, and watch Kathakali performances, besides giving bath to the state’s famous captive elephants.
Entries from as many as 80 countries, including US, UK, Poland, Spain, Germany, Canada and Indonesia had been received. Some of the contestants participating in the race for the 25 seats have already featured in National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveller and Lonely Planet. The participants who have their own blogs like travel writers, photographers and bloggers are eligible to enter the selection. The registration for ‘Kerala Blog Express’ journey had ended on January 10. Profiles of participants are available on Kerala Blog Express website for voting by the general public.
While then, the Kerala Tourism website has won the national tourism award for the 6th time for ‘most innovative use of information technology’ for 2012-13. The website was rated best among travel websites from India.
Kerala is famous as a leisure destination for tourists around the world. In the recent times there is a sharp increase in the number of visitors who come for Ayurveda treatment. Apart from Ayurveda, the state is set to develop adventure and heritage spots in order to broaden the tourism scene to create more inflow of tourists.
The state at present aims at leisure tourists who come to Kerala for Ayurvedic treatments. It is believed that the Muziris Heritage site and the Spice Route revival project can attract tourists all round the year. The addition of new destinations is expected to bring in 10% increase in tourist arrivals this year. In 2013, the total revenue from tourism had crossed Rs.21, 000 crore.
The Muziris in the east of Kerala was once the greatest trading ports of the old days where Arabs, Chinese, Jews, Romans, Portuguese and Dutch came to trade. The upgrading of heritage tourism plans will showcase Muziris Heritage through more than 25 museums. 11 museums are ready to open to the public by the end of February.
Kerala has plans to introduce sea-plane project which aims at improving connectivity by air to destinations across the state. Through the idea of Spice route, the state plans to connect with 31 countries in Europe, Asia and Far East by creating a new experience. The project has garnered support from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). A conference is planned in this regard by the end of this financial year. The representatives of 31 countries will participate and discuss on how to take things forward.
The “Nirbhaya Scheme” initiated with the help of central government to ensure the safety of women and children in the highly literate society of Kerala will be inaugurated by the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on 15th February. According to the project plan, every Panchayath/local self government will have 10 Nirbhaya volunteers each. These volunteers will make frequent visits to the houses where lone ladies, widows and old aged lives. They will make a check to know their well being and if required get police aid.
The government of Kerala has sanctioned 7.5crore rupees towards this programme. As per the new scheme, local bodies, Jagratha Samithis and Kudumbasree will be at the core of grassroots interventions related to prevention, identification and rescue. They will also take responsibility for the rehabilitation of cases of sexual violence and sex trafficking.
Jagratha Samithis, under the Kerala Women’s Commission, at panchayat/local self government level will be the core committees for implementing the Nirbhaya programme. In addition, there will be district Nirbhaya committees and a state level coordination committee which will closely review the status of the programme and monitor the functioning of local bodies, departments and institutions.
Photo Courtesy: The Hindu
Kerala Tourism bags the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance. The award has made Kerala the first Indian state to win the UN award. It is considered to be the top UN Award for global leadership in creating innovative initiatives through Responsible Tourism. The award was presented on January 22 at a ceremony held at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR), in Madrid, Spain.
Kerala was awarded for its innovative ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom. The project had successfully linked the local community with the hospitality industry and government departments. This in turn has created a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.
The Kumarakom model initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March 2013 and also, the PATA Grand Award for Environment. At the awards ceremony, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said, “Kerala, a popular ecotourism destination, portrays responsible and sustainable tourism in an exceptional manner”. “The recognition Kerala received is a great step towards creating a better understanding among other destinations”, He added. Taleb Rifai wished “continued success” for Kerala Tourism!
In 2013, the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism had won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for its Homestay Experience Programme.
Kerala is conducting a survey to create a single database directory of all the accommodation units in the state. This database will help the visitors to the state and the stakeholders in the tourism industry.
The survey which started on January 15 covers hotels, home stays, houseboats, heritage buildings under the “Grahasthali Project”, ayurveda centres, rest houses, guest houses and other establishments offering accommodation facilities to tourists. The survey which conducted by the department of Economics and Statistics will end on February 28.
The Tourism Minister Mr. A.P Anil Kumar said that the idea of a single directory will be a valuable resource for everyone.
The deputy directors of Economics and Statistics department of every district will carry out the data collection and entry. The forms to enter the details are distributed to the managers of each establishment. The collected information will be available in the official Kerala Tourism Website.
Kerala Forest Department introduces a new system to bring transparency in issuing tickets for various tourism packages at Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR). Under the new plans, the boating facility comes on top.
The new system makes it possible to check the tickets of every individual by verifying the identity cards at various points. This is the first time to introduce such a system in the state. There is also a plan to bring the boat landing centre and other important areas under camera surveillance by installing 14 cameras.
The camera facility may be introduced in Periyar Tiger Reserve by February second week. After that every ticket issued will have a bar code. This allows only genuine ticket holders to enter the gate. The PTR Package normally includes 10 trips which many tourists do not utilise. The new system helps the authorities to let know of any misuse of packages not utilised by the genuine tourists. What otherwise happens is, the agents sell it at higher price to other tourists. This affects the revenue of the Forest Department as the money is usurped by the agents.
The screenings of tourists start from the entry check post through which the vehicle passes into the PTR boat landing centre. The PTR is planning to introduce the camera facility by February second week after which each ticket will have bar coding. This enables only genuine ticket holders to enter the gate. Only 25% of the total tickets are offered online while the remaining is sold through the counters at the boat landing centre in Thekkady. A total of around 3,000 tourists are able to do boating on a day in the boats operated by the Forest Department and the KTDC.
To attract more tourists to the centre, the PTR also have plans to set up kiosks to avail tickets at 10 centres in the state. Three centres will be in Kumily, one in Munnar and the remaining in Kumarakam, Kottayam, Nedumbassery airport and other such places.
Dream of a Mosquito-free Cochin! Will there be a time? Perhaps, the Pitcher plant- ‘the meat eating plant’ can free Kochi from Mosquitoes to some extent. Only thing is that every house in the district should grow this plant.
Nothing excites more awe and suspense than seeing a Pitcher Plant with your own eyes. With its deeply folded leaves, the cup-shaped plant stores up a sweet-smelling juice which lures an unsuspecting insect into its mouth. And when it is about to sip…an unfortunate thing happens. Unable to climb back, this fallen insect flails helplessly in the fluid until it loses energy and submits to the overpowering force of its fate. Much like the animals, the pitcher plant “eats” the insects.
The secret lies in the juice. It contains chemicals (that are similar to those found in the stomach) that could slowly munch and swallow the skin of its prey until it dissolves completely—becoming the very juice that it once tried to drink. The larger pitchers could even trap small frog, snakes and birds inside. Even though they are deadly traps for mosquitoes, they can never gulp down a person!
Some Facts about Pitcher Plant!
It is the most mysterious leaf in the whole wide universe. The pitcher plant comes in different shapes and sizes. The meat eating plant in the sense, it eats small insects like mosquitoes and other flies of the kind. It belongs to the two large families of monocots—the Nepenthaceae (Old World) and Sarraceniaceae (New World).
The pitchers under the Old World clan live high above a tree and resorts to find alternative source of nutrients because of the lack of other resources. It folds the ends of its leaves like a cup and concocts nectar juices and waits daintily for its helpless victims. Meanwhile, the New World family stays on ground and enjoys more insects. These plants actually form a whole pitcher out of its leaf.
Everyone can try growing this mosquito-eating plant and free the mosquito- rich Kochi. Let’s see if there will be any change with this unique idea.
Kerala Tourism Partnership meets for the year 2014 are scheduled in the tier 1 cities of India. According to the schedule, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkota, Hyderabad are cities to hold Partnership Meets from 7th January to 25th February.
The partnership meets are to offer tourism industry members an effective B2B platform to establish potential markets for Kerala. Various businesses include, travel and Hospitality Trade from Kerala including Hoteliers, Tour operators, House boat operators, Home stays and Ayurveda centres. The businessmen from Kerala meet tour operators & travel agents in selected cities in India. It is a full day business event which envisages the promotion of Kerala Tourism via public private-partnership and enables buyers from target cities to understand and explore Kerala. The partnership meets include business sessions, screening of films on destinations and products, interactive sessions, media interaction and cultural programmes.
Kerala Tourism will be inviting the tour operators and travel agents of the source market to the Partnership Meets to attend as buyers. So, this is indeed a great opportunity for Kerala tour operators aiming tourists from across India.
Photo Courtesy: Keralatourism.org
Good News for women, a new system for the safety of women is to come soon in our public transportation system! Central Government has approved the plans to establish CCTV and GPS system inside public transportation facilities like bus, train etc for the safety of women. Rupees 1405 crores have been earmarked for the establishment of this project.
The aim of this project is the safety of women. The system will assist in reaching help to women in danger. A fund named “Nirbhaya” was established in memory of the girl who died after the cruel gang rape inside a running bus in Delhi in December 2012. The Nirbhaya Fund is finally utilised with the implementation of security systems inside the public transportation, this project will be implemented in 53 cities in two years.
During the first phase of this project, the security systems will be established in 32 cities and later on in 21 cities. Let’s see how far this project is going to help women in the future!
As 2013 ended and 2014 loomed large, one of the important topics talked about in national and international level, is the development of the state of Kerala. Since Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, was selected to lead the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign in the upcoming general election for the 16th Lok Sabha in India, the debate on whether Kerala or Gujarat model of development was best for India heated up…
While Indian media celebrated and supported Gujarat model development, Amartya Sen, Indian economist and a Nobel laureate who conducted research on the Kerala development model, publicly opposed it. He said,”Gujarat is still behind Kerala for the Human Development Index”. Ever since Amartya Sen’s involved in the subject, many other world economists injected themselves into the matter and supported Modi and Gujarat.
Kerala leaves other states behind and is way ahead in health rates, lowest child mortality, population growth rates, high savings, expenditure rates, high individual net income rates and economic growth rates. The people who support the Gujarat model development had to agree to the view that Kerala is much ahead of other Indian states. The credit, they conclude for the Kerala’s development, is not of the Government’s but that of individuals, institutions and systems present in the state.
The research conducted by the Indian division of “Standard and Poor” (an American International rating agency of US) CRISIL also found Kerala as the number one state for development in different sectors. Malayalis can be proud to belong to the developed state of Kerala. However, dynamic Malayalis are showing a growing tendency to return to agriculture as people here worry about remaining a consumer state. One thing is true; Malayalis earn and spend a lot and are well aware of dying traditions and zooming progress and its pros and cons.
As we step into the New Year, here’s wishing more accolades to Kerala in socio-economic development in the year 2014!