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!
As part of Kerala special tourism projects, weddings and other corporate events are to be made part of state tourism policies.
Kerala has been recently recognised as an ideal destination for MICE’s (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions). Relatively, MICE’s are identified as the fastest growing segments in the tourism industry. The conventional and unconventional meeting opportunities that Kerala offers make it an ideal destination for MICE’s.
The idea is totally right as Kerala has some of the country’s best picturesque backdrops for meetings and conferences. Kerala has an impressive array of accommodation, leisure and other conference-support facilities that highlight the aquatic and tropical beauty of the place.
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.
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.
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
A survey conducted by BBC World News has rated Kerala as the most popular tourist spot among foreign travellers. The survey included 1000 people from around the world who have visited India and never visited India. The survey focused on four factors including travel habits of international travelers, tourism attractions and facilities and the things that prevent them from visiting.
Tamil Nadu was pitched at a close second position among the South Indian states with 34 percent of the tourists who have visited India instantly recalling the state. Good road connectivity and the ancient temple architecture and culture in the well preserved testimonial like Madurai Meenakshi temple were cited as its major attractions.
Karnataka is at slot three with 31 per cent of travelers who have visited India recalling its value.
In the fourth position stands Kolkata, which is known to most foreign travelers as the home of Mother Teresa and Rabindranath Tagore. The survey rated West Bengal in the first position among the Eastern Indian states. 20% of visitors who have visited India instantly recalled West Bengal with travelers from the US and the UK being the most aware about this state. Interestingly 19% of the travelers who have never visited India also knew about West Bengal.
Though it might sound a bit paradoxical, Gujarat which ranks high as an investment destination, is yet to emerge as a popular tourist destination among international travelers. Some of the factors that were thought to contribute to its low popularity include liquour ban as per the survey. The state has also not fully popularized its credentials as the home town of Gandhiji. Only one percent of the respondents had instant recall about Gujarat.
Though Gujarat has good infrastructure and transport facilities, it has to do more to promote destinations such as the Rann of Kuttch, Gir Forest and Gandhi Ashram, said a statement.
The travel survey reveals that North Indian states in general have a negative attitude towards foreign tourists. While Uttar Pradesh was rated the least popular because of the negative
attitude of local populace towards foreign tourists, low medical facilities, safety, security and hygiene. Madhya Pradesh and Bihar too ranked low among foreign tourists for the low safety records for travelers especially women tourists.
In a novel concept to bring alive the beauty, the magic and above all the nostalgia of the monsoons of Kerala to those who miss it, the Kerala Tourism Board has brought alive the monsoon experience to the desktop of millions of global netizens all around the world through the state of the art gesture recognition technology.
The gesture controlled website, http://when-it-rains.com/ which is best viewed with Google chrome and a webcam has got over 100,000 hits already. The website has some brilliantly captured rain sights and monsoon moments in its portfolio, which the visitors can browse by simply waving their hand in front of the camera.
The gesture recognition technology will bring a new image onto the screen and it gives them a realistic experience of the rain spectacles of Kerala and its dramatic beauty. The site also functions without gesture control, where the users can flip through the images through the direction tabs at the bottom right of the web page.
The website, the first ever of its kind developed so far by a state tourism board in India, gives a peek to the rain soaked plains, mist clad mountains and the pristine backwaters among many others through this gesture based interface. Launched as a part of the monsoon campaign by Kerala Tourism, this website is one of the few tourism websites in the world that employs gesture controlled technology. Spectacular images of monsoon shared by Facebook fans of Kerala Tourism find place in this website.
The site, developed by Stark Communications, the official marketing and communications agency of the Kerala Tourism Department ensures a user friendly browsing experience. The website tracks and responds to the movements of the users in front of a webcam, ensuring an interactive and personal monsoon experience to those browsing the site even if they are not in Kerala. It can go a long way in linking the various Kerala destinations to people and take them upclose to the sights and scenes that await them on their visit.
Kerala Tourism Director Hari Kishore described the gesture controlled website as yet another step in extending to the world the many experiences that Kerala can offer to a visitor. The warm and quick response in the social media was obvious as this site got over 100,000 visits since its launch on 28th May 2013 apart from 13,000 likes in Facebook and 300 tweets. It is another feather in the cap of Kerala tourism, which has to its credit the award-winning website of /www.keralatourism.org, which is also one of the most-visited tourism websites in the world.
So for those scores of overseas Malayalees who love to soak up the monsoon magic at its best or bring back the nostalgic memories, anytime, anywhere, all they need to do is to log into http://when-it-rains.com/ . No matter where you are , now the Kerala monsoon experience is only a few clicks away! Enjoy