An article on the travel industry website Skift celebrates the increasing acceptance of visa on arrival procedures around the world. India now offers visa on arrival for some nationalities but has decided not to offer to visitors from some of the major countries like the UK. There is no known reason for India not to extend this service to more tourism visitors and indeed business visitors as it is both a major hindrance for visitors and impacts the competitiveness of the destination. As a company we have frequently lost prospective visitors because of visa issues. In fact it is a mjor reason for us to extend our service to Sri Lanka who already offer visa on arrival or very simple eVisa services through their website. Since Sri Lanka is every bit as terrorism phobic as the Indian government, it clearly demonstrates that there are no overriding issues to moving from antiquated and extremely inefficient visa services as they are operated now. As a businessman who travels to India every month, the recuurent annual need to send in my passport to have a new visa appended is both expensive. 2 to five year visa may appear in principle, but you won’t get one as far as I know.
Wake up India! If you want to compete with Thailand and Sri Lanka you will need to streamline your visa processes soon!
Kerala is bestowed with a long sea coast that virtually extends all along the State and a meandering network of backwaters, canals and rivers, which makes it a perfect destination for water tourism and leisure activities.
Kerala has asked The National Institute of Water Sports (NIWS) in Goa to chart out a detailed project report. Once the policy clearances are obtained , water sports and other leisure activities will be taken up in a phased manner. Kerala holds an enviable position for a range of water sporting options like windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing. The ethnic water activities of Kerala including house boat cruise and snake boat racing could also be included in the activity list to ensure a diverse fare. The main objective of this plan would be to promote new water sporting destinations apart from the popular spots like in Kerala like Punnamada, Ashtamudi, Kumarakom and Bakel.
Apart from enhancing the tourism potential of the State, weather sporting events would also ensure the protection of water bodies in the State, which are facing a high risk from the spiraling commercial and developmental activities in the State, which has taken a heavy toll over its natural resources.
The fact that Kerala has bagged a handsome order of over Rs 2 Crore coir geotextiles from the neighbouring state of Tamilnadu to reinforce their roads is a matter of delight. However the immediate query that pops up in every Malayalees mind would be the apathy of the administration in making use of these materials in making the roads of Kerala in motorable condition. Kerala roads have been in the news for all the wrong reasons as they remain in pitiable condition riddled with potholes all round the year. While Kerala has succeeded in eying at the commercial aspects of geo textiles, it has turned a Nelson’s eye at making use of this materials in solving its own road repair woes.
Geotextiles are highly effective in not just stabilizing roads but also can be used in reinforcing roads, rails, river embankments and air fields. The best part is that these natural products can be used as absorbants of toxic contents in waste dump areas, acoustic barriers for noise control in sports arenas and many more. Because of its high sound-proof property, geotextiles have even been recommended by the Dutch and German Government agencies for noise reduction in environmentally sensitive areas and as acoustic barriers in homes. Kerala’s coir geotextile is also well poised to enter the international market like Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
It is sad that these high value products, which have received acclaims from all over the world have never been used in improving the roads and living conditions of the native people of Kerala. While these products are being exploited only as export items that fetch handsome revenue for the coffers, Kerala roads remain destined as death traps for thousands of commuters. Kerala has to put up with high accident rates due to the pathetic road conditions and outdated road maintenance mechanisms, which often end up as mere eye wash. Even when there are proven materials that can bring about a quality change in the way we travel, why is that these products always fail to reach the common man? Well, will this query also remain as yet another social issue without an answer!