Kerala won yet another ultimate recognition in the communication of global tourism at ITB Berlin. The “Golden City Gate Award” is considered the Oscars of Tourism and, Kerala won it for its print campaign on backwaters. This is the second major international award for Kerala Tourism after United Nations World Trade Organization (UNWTO) Ulysses Prize, in a two months period.
The Das Goldene Stadttor or the Golden City Gate awards are held under the patronage of the German Federal Association of Film and Audio-Visual Producers. ITB-Berlin is the world’s leading travel trade show initiated in 1996 and where 180 countries participate. “The Great Backwaters Campaign” launched last year, won the award after facing tough competition from major tourism boards of the world.
The Golden City Gate Awards are presented in the print, film and media categories and assessed by an international jury. The print campaign presents the state’s famous water bodies as a single destination and once-in-a-lifetime experience for the traveller, in the big league of the Great Wall of China and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
This recognition is a great achievement for Kerala. It is expected to create a major boost to the state’s reputation as one of the top tourism destinations in the world!
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 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 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.
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!
The prince and his entourage enjoyed the heavy downpower from deep inside the forests and the beauty of the bountiful waterfalls in Vazhachal.
Later he met the tribals who live in the periphery of the tropical forests and enquired about their food habits and mode of living.
The Prince spent around 40 minutes in the elephant corridor and was curious to know about the unique flora and fauna of the region. He also spared time to interact with the forest range officials and other senior officials of Wildlife Trust of India and other forest conservation organizations.
The authorities also introduced snake charmer Vava Suresh to the prince, who has the rare distinction of capturing over 250000 snakes till date including king cobra with bare hands and releasing them to the wild. Elephant lover Thadikannan, traditional botanist Mari and wildlife expert S Guruvayurappan also met prince Charles.
The villagers of teh otherwise sleepy villages near vazhachal accorded a rousing reception to the visiting Prince in a traditional style when his convoy passed through the area.
Image courtesy : Mail Online
Malayalee poets have always fantasised rivers, forests and lagoons as nature’s dowry in some of their best literary creations. However it seems that these have become the private gifts of the land mafia and the resort owners in Kerala going by the way they usurp priceless and highly fragile land by flouting the many rules and regulations in place.
Banyan Tree , a Seven-star deluxe villa resort, built on an islet in Vembanad backwaters, a Ramsar site, (a wetland of international importance and protected by the Ramsar Convention)with full cooperation of state agencies, has been served a demolition notice. Promoted by the Muthoot group and Kuwait-based Kapico group, it is alleged that this resort was built by filling up the surrounding backwaters to reclaim land
Banyan Tree is located on the private island of Nediyathuruthu, surrounded by the unspoilt beauty of the backwaters in Kerala’s Alleppey district. It is ironical that the luxurious all-pool villa, Banyan Tree is the first Indian outpost of the award-winning resort chain group, which owns premium resorts and hotels in Asia-Pacific.
The Kerala High Court, July 25 has come down heavily by ordering the demolition of all 59 villas and other constructions on the tiny island in the backwaters within three months. A division bench of the high court, comprising justices K M Joseph and K Harilal cited violation of various laws and norms like the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), EIA Notification-2006, Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act-2008 and Wetland conservation and Management Rules-2010.
Nediyathuruthu, one of the the seven tiny islets in the Vembabad backwaters in Alappuzha was originally made of paddy fields and water-logged areas. The land , which was acquired by a chartered accountant from various owners was later purchased by Mini Muthoot group, a non-banking financial corporation in Kerala and the Kuwait-based Kapico Group, which has operations in over 11 countries. The paddy fields were filled up along with the surrounding backwaters of around 2.04 acres and a private jetty was constructed without obtaining permission from the irrigation department.
According to the coastal zone regulations, constructions within 50 metre from the shoreline are strictly prohibited. The maximum height of the structures should not exceed nine metre and it is mandatory to leave 20 metre distance between two buildings. Banyan tree resort has found to have violated all these rules. This luxury hotel project, which was built at around 250 crore also failed to obtain the mandatory clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest for all investments above Rs 5 crore.
Some of the other resorts that are facing action include Vaamika island and green lagoon. Only tough action will deter the land sharks and private groups from eating into the prime land of Kerala. The area of Vembanad lake has been reduced to a paltry 12,000 hectares from 42,000 hectares in the past few decades, and if adequate monitoring system in not in place , the day is not far away when the largest fresh water lake in Asia would dry up like Bharatapuzha, which has now been reduced to a thin streak of water from being a bountiful river in the past!
The monsoon dates that coincide with the school reopening in Kerala has always been a delightful experience for every Malayalee. As the much expected South West monsoons lashed the Kerala Coast bang on target on June 1st, it brought cheer to not just the fun loving kids but also to the general public and the administration as well. Monsoon is so intricately linked with the lifestyle and culture of Kerala that normal life will be badly hit if the rains fail to show up on time.
The monsoon has a crucial role in in the economy of the power starved state of Kerala as it replenishes the waterways and reservoirs of the State, which depends on Hydro electricity for power generation even today. From tourism to Ayurveda and monsoon wellness treatments, Kerala offers a host of activities that are tagged to monsoon.
The South West monsoon, which is expected to bring normal rains this year has brought down the soaring temperature of Kerala. Keralites who have been reeling under load shedding can be a relieved lot as the power curbs will be lifted in a few days when the monsoons gather strength.
As industrialization and deforestation has affected the weather patterns all around the world, we can only hope and pray that this God given gift of the monsoons, continue to bring prosperity and happiness to Kerala. As responsible citizens we should all take an oath to protect our water bodies, forests and wet lands to make sure that we hand over the magic and bounty of monsoons to the future generations.
Elephants have always been poster boys for Kerala tourism. In a novel attempt to lure foreign tourists and elephant lovers, the Kerala forest department officials have come up with a hard to resist package.
Two persons can spend a day with an elephant at the Konni Eco-Tourism Centre for INR 2,000. Those who avail the package will get an irresistible deal including a rare chance to feed or bathe the elephant apart from enjoying a safari.
The tourists can visit the elephant camp and can even try their hands in giving these gentle giants a thorough scrub and wash at the bathing ghat in the Achenkovil River. The tourists can also take home a few photographs to keep these priceless moments fresh all their life time. There are currently five elephants at the Konni elephant camp where the tourists can spend around six hours with the elephant. The revenue will be utilized for the maintenance of the camp.
Spread over 7 acres, the Konni Eco-Tourism Centre has many facilities including audio-visual library, elephant museum, restaurant and a children’s park.The third phase of the development of the Konni Eco-Tourism Project at a project cost of over 45 lakh is in the pipeline. The projects in this phase include landscaping work in the elephant camp and improvement of the elephant museum.
So in case you are planning a special gift for someone special think beyond the run of the mill gift ideas and plan a day out with the jumbos. It will surely be something priceless not just for the recipient but also for those who gift it!