The UNESCO has listed a total of 39 heritage spots all along the Western Ghats, of which Kerala takes credit to as many as 20 UNESCO heritage destinations, making Kerala an important eco sensitive destination. The decision to include the Western Ghats among the world heritage sites was taken in the World heritage meeting that was held on Jul 1st in St Petersburg.
Some of the destinations featured in this important heritage list include the forests that are spread along Chinnar, Thekkady, Chinnar, Eravikulam, Silent Valley, Attapadi, Pulmedu, Manavan chola, Pushpagiri and Kaalikavu. The report underscores the preservation of these eco sensitive spots.
Not many of us know that the Western Ghats that extends over 1600 Km is more ancient and bio diverse than the Himalayas. It is home to 5000 types of rare plants and over 140 mammals, 16 of which are seen only in this part in the whole world including the lion tailed macaques and the Nilgiri Tahr. Of the 179 types of reptiles seen here, 138 varieties are exclusive to the Western Ghats. There is a diverse avian population too in this region, many of which are facing the danger of extinction. Pollution, commercial activities , mining and deforestation are some of the reasons for the degradation of these fragile eco zones.
The heritage enlistment of the Western Ghats, will help in preventing the mining activities , which are now rampant in many places within the Western Ghats in Goa and Karnataka. It is our duty to protect these ancient natural wonders as we have only borrowed it from our forefathers to hand it over the future generations. Let us do our bit for the safe keep of these pristine spots , which are god given gifts for Kerala, the God’s own country’, which will go a long way in boosting the tourism potential too.
Kerala, which registered an impressive growth of 11 per cent in foreign tourist arrivals and 9.15 per cent in domestic tourist arrivals during the year 2011 despite many odds has always been a favorite tourist destination among local travelers and foreign tourists. As always U. K tourists topped the list, which was closely followed by those from France, Germany, U. S and Australia. The State tourism board is now launching an aggressive promotional campaign to woo more tourists from the Middle East and Arab countries. Some of the programmes planned include road show, media promotion, and hoisting hoardings in both Arabic and English. This is the first time that such a campaign in Gulf countries is being taken up to cash in on the holiday making pattern of the Arabs who prefer holiday destinations in the East rather than American and UK holiday spots.
Kerala has lined up an interesting itinerary that offer something special for everyone . From monsoon packages to ayurveda and house boat cruise, Kerala will offer an eclectic experience. The ‘Dream Season’ package, spanning the entire off-season from May to September, has always been quite popular among the tourists. Apart from rain walks, monsoon spectacles and ayurveda the biggest attraction of this package is the low cost offer where the hotel rates and tourism packages hit the rock.
Another attraction will be the 4th monsoon carnival in Wayanad that will be held from 9-14th July in Wayanad. A joint venture of the district tourism promotion council and Wayanad Tourism Organisation, it is expected to bring in around 500 travel agents from all over the country. The carnival showcases many fun activities and events including a flood water tour, mud football, rain trekking and even a crab catching tour!. The adventure buffs will find the off road adventure rally their cup of tea for sure. The initiatives of the tourism board to forage into the unexplored markets like the Middle East will bring in the much needed impetus to the tourism potential of Kerala in the days ahead.
Kerala has launched a global advertising campaign in London showcasing its stunning backwaters, pristine beaches and serene countryside. The campaign is aimed at making Kerala a must visit destination for travelers all over the world. The brain child of Stark Communications, the brand agency for Kerala tourism, the campaign will hit cinemas screening the movie, ”Eat Pray Love”, in the UK,
The campaign will also be extended to the other major markets in Europe, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland. The timing for the campaign would not have been better for Kerala as it was recently adjudged the ”most preferred destination’ in India” at the CNBC Awaaz Awards, 2010, while the Kerala Tourism Board was conferred the Best Tourism Board award.
This is not the first time that Kerala tourism department is indulging in innovative campaigns and road shows to garner more interest in this happening tourist spot and to highlight the unseen and the unexplored attractions of Kerala. Last year, the Kerala tourism department in an innovative tourism promotion campaign had decorated 120 taxis in the UK with Kerala tourism promotional advertisements. The campaign became a huge hit among the British, who make up one third of the 6.50 lakh foreigners who visit the state every year.
From being an unknown destination in the southern tip of the Indian sub continent, Kerala has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world in a short span of a decade or so. Voted as ”One of the Ten Paradises in the World” by National Geographic Traveller in the year 2000, Kerala has indeed left its indelible imprints in the international tourism map with well timed and innovative promotional campaigns and propaganda.
Bekal- A source of attraction for historians, tourists and nature lovers has hit the bull’s eye when Bekal Resort Development Corporation (BRDC) is on its way to groom it as an International Tourism destination of Kerala.
Situated in the Northern most part of Kerala, Kasaragod, where fishing is the only source of livelihood, this striking beauty is noted for its sandy beaches, the 300 year old ancient Bekal Fort, near proximity to the two airports and the friendly socialising people.
Last month on behalf of the promotional efforts, a documentary film known as ‘Bekal’, produced by BRDC was screened in the Kalabhavan Theatre, Thiruvanthapuram. The script directed by Mr.C.P.Padmakumar pictures the many nature and man made attractions.
The film shortlist the main and the nearby attractions of Bekal, the employment source, the investment options and policy of BRDC and the major investors in the region.
This year also saw the inauguration of ‘Beach Camp’ by the minister of Tourism, Mr Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. In the Beach Camp, the first property of KTDC Hotels and Resorts in Bekal, 30 cottages are coming up in two hectares of land that is situated between the Bekal beach and The tsunami park.
Though it is regarded as a small region, it plays a prominent part in bringing limelights to God’s own country- Kerala. In another few months we might find Bekal as one of the top destinations in South, maybe more, let us hope so!
Kerala being Asia’s new age tourist destination and India’s tourism super-brand is expecting the biennial event Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) which is starting from Sep 23rd to 26th. Expected to be attended by a record of 2000 delegates from India and Abroad, it is conducted in Bolgatty Palace Hotel at the Bolgatty Island in Cochin.
Known to be the only tourism event in the sub continent, KTM brings together entrepreneurs and business travellers who are involved in the tourism products and various other services in Kerala. This is the largest gathering that is designed, planned and scheduled to facilitate meetings involving Buyers, Sellers, Media, Government agencies and others, it is likely to see a record participation of 382 sellers, 551 international buyers and 1,621 domestic buyers this year.
With the theme ‘Athithi devo bhava’, this event will focus more on homestays this year. Declared as a platform for the buyers to interact with the sellers, it is one of the largest of its kind. It is also seen to introduce a new concept ‘Speed Networking’ that intends to give maximum opportunity to both buyers and the sellers.
Riaz Ahmed, KTM president is seen to have said to the reporters that the highest numbers of participants are from UK and others from Poland, Finland, Mexico and South Africa, clearly indicating their global interest in Kerala’s tourism products and services.
The programme that is conducted once in two years will be open to the public on the last day – Sep 26th.
Programme schedule for KTM 2010
- 23rd Sep’10 (Thu)
6.30 p.m. – Inaugural Ceremony
- 24th Sep’10 (Fri)
9.30 a.m. -Inauguration of the Venue
10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. -Business hours
- 25th Sep’10 (Sat)
10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. -Business hours
- 26th Sep’10 (Sun)
10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. -Business hours
10.00 a.m – 6.00 p.m. -Open to visitors
4.30 p.m. -Valedictory function
6.00 p.m -Mart closes
Kerala has been voted as the best Asian holiday destination ahead of even the blue chip tourist destinations like Bali, Phuket and Maldives. Kerala’s enviable coastline , the tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters, misty mountains and diverse tropical fauna and flora has become a sure shot winning combo for Kerala in tourist circuits.
Kerala Tourism got a boost when a million strong users of the famous travel portal, SmartTravelAsia.com, placed the state as the best Asian holiday destination of their choice. The “Best in Travel poll 2010’ carried out by an independent online travel magazine Smart Travel Asia conducted between May and July in Asia (India, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and the Middle East), Europe and North America, saw the emergence of Kerala as the best Asian tourist destination.
The poll was mainly based on on ‘aspirational” brands and travel trends in the region.Bali and Phuket were voted as second and third most favourite holiday destinations in Asia and the only other India tourist places that made their way to the top 10 list were Rajasthan and Goa at eighth and tenth spot respectively.
“This is phenomenal recognition for the state and the people who are in the tourism sector, delivering an inspirational experience. Keralites should feel very proud of their contribution to this fantastic international achievement”, says Secretary, Kerala Tourism, V. Venu. The awards are unique because they single out not just popular places but truly exceptional places that enthrall travellers and keep them coming back, he added.
Travelers voted Kerala based on their travel experience and information they sourced from ads and PR apart from word of mouth publicity. Voters also polled in 12 categories including Asia’s best business hotels, luxury resorts, spas, destinations, business cities, shopping spots, and the world’s best airlines and airports.
So, in case you have not been to God’s own country.’ pack your bags and get ready for an out of the world holiday experience.
Kerala- A state that has been caught in the web of paradoxes, has no parallel in any other Indian state. Gods own country has come a long way in recent years both in showing its good side as well as the bad. On one end are the firsts that Kerala has achieved. But on the other end it is a state that is caught in the trap of its various political ideologies and narrow interests myopic to the dynamic of various changes.
Let me show you how this breathtaking beautiful state is bringing pride to India in various circumstances in the future:
- Organised by the Kerala Coir Development Programme, the Malabar Coir Festival begins at the Corporation Stadium Ground on August 12th. With as much as 80 stalls that showcase various coir products including export quality materials, it is seen that this 11 day exhibition is organised in order to promote marketing and introduce new products.
- One of the fanciest in the country and believed to be the costliest prayer hall in Kerala is seen to be inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil on this Friday. The 91 foot high lotus shaped hall is named as ‘Parnasala’ and is dedicated to the late founder, Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru. The full bloomed lotus in pure white marble will be unveiled at the Santhigiri Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram.
- An organisation pioneering the green building movement- The Indian Green Building Council has brought about a significant milestone of having almost 100 fully functional green buildings in various states across the country. This milestone has brought India a good image in the international map of green buildings and a proud factor for all Keralites to know that Kerala is contributing to being Green.
- Inaugurating a substation at Mattanur in this district with as much as 30 power projects targeting a production capacity, it is seen that Kerala is in the progress of being a role model in the production of excess electricity in the country.
- A felicitation is being conducted by the Kerala Tourism department in honor of Kamala Hasan, the legend that has bagged almost 18 Filmfare awards and is known as the showman of the film industry.
But in another page in the long book of commendable factors, here comes something that showcases Kerala’s not so good side:
- Due to lack pf proper sanitation, mass bathing by pilgrims, discharge of industrial effluents, it is seen that high levels of pollution is contaminating the backwaters and rivers of Kerala. So it is very necessary for the government to take comprehensive management steps to plan and conserve nature’s gift before it is fully contaminated, by destroying Kerala’s priceless gifts.
Kerala is famous worldwide with tourists who are looking for a serene beautiful place to enjoy their holidays. But now Kerala is eying ‘Movie-spot tourism‘.
With the recent release of the multilingual movie ‘Ravan‘ in Hindi,Tamil(Ravanan) and Telugu(‘Villain’) by the famous film director Mani Ratnam casting Abhishek Bachan, Aiswarya Rai Bachan and Vikram, the location have caught the attention of movie loving audience throughout India. And, almost all are taken up by the well done cinematography and the backdrop of the entire movie. People who know little about Kerala and haven’t visited the state before, have started to ask where was the movie shot from? Even Malayalees won’t believe that the movie was shot near Athirappally and Vazhachal waterfalls and from the forest here.
Kerala Tourism department has now stuck on the idea to make a campaign with the film ‘Ravana’. There are many films from other languages that have shot from Kerala’s different scenic locations. Hollywood movie ‘Nishabdh‘ casting Amitabh Bachan and Jiya Khan was partially shot from Munnar, since then Munnar is famous among all the Hindiwallahs. So are the movies ‘Bombay’(Song-Uyire ..uyire from Bakel Fort-Kasargod),’Dilse‘ from Alappuzha, Vinnei Thandi Varuvaya (partially from Kuttanad-Alappuzha) and many more movies that I forget.
Anyway, Kerala Tourism Department is thinking for various ways to improve its tourism and the inflow of tourists to the state. The countries like Switzerland, New Zealand and Malaysia have started the trend called ‘movie spot tourism’ long back. Movie Spot Tourism is enlisting some major locations as shooting locations where the shooting set will get all the facilities without any difficulties. It will in turn make those locations famous and in a way tourism campaign through the movie.
In Kerala, it needs to cross many barriers and face restrictions if anyone needs to shoot in forests or in other protected areas. So, Kerala Tourism is also planning to start up such a trend called ‘Movie Spot Tourism’, where they will make a list of major locations that needs attention and then the movie sets are allowed entry by paying a certain amount as fee.
Each part of Kerala has their own unique cuisine and as anywhere else in the world, the Kerala cuisine is influenced by the traditions, culture and the changing lifestyles of its people. Attracting the tourists with its culinary specialties, Kerala offers one of the tastiest foods on earth. However if you need to really appreciate Kerala cuisines, then you need to have a taste for chillies- hot and spicy.
A typical Kerala breakfast can be anything from Puttu( steamed rice with coconut scrapings, due to abundance of coconuts) and bananas or peas, Appam, Idlis and Dosas. Lucnh and dinner is mainly rice with either veg: Thoran( chopped vegetables and grated coconut), Avial( a mix of all vegetables), Pachadi(different types: papaya, pineapple or lady’s finger) or rice with meat: usually chicken or beef.
Talking about Kerala cuisines, i encountered a different experience when i was on my way to Bolgatty Palace. After a long day with my cousins who had met for a family get together, we thought of taking a stroll outside and enjoy a quiet evening. On our way to Boat jetty, Kochi, back of Marine Drive, we came across a small push cart that had a vendor selling one of the most tastiest “sarbath” i had ever had!
I was so smitten by the taste, that i wanted to know more details about the shop, how he made and what was his luck factor. Meeting with Shaji ekka(the owner), he had lots to say about his small business. This small way side outlet had come a long 21 years with the bees that surrounded the shop as his lady luck. Besides selling, he was a very friendly person and informed us that once the ice that topped the juice was over, he packs up for the day. Needless to say, my cousins said that it was one of the most crowded places and best known in Kochi when it comes to a chilling “sarbath”.
Farm Tourism is a new trend in Kerala’s tourism sector. Kerala, being an agriculture dominated state, has tremendous potential for developing Farm Tourism in a big way without much additional investment. Even though farm tourism is an integral part of Eco Tourism, there is a slight difference between both of them.While artificially created landscapes are part of Eco Tourism – gardens, pond etc, the goal of Farm Tourism is to show the curious tourist about Nature in her pristine purity.
Farm Tourism preserves the environment. Chemical Farming is also prohibited, as no processes which damage Nature is allowed. Organic Farming and its development give tremendous impetus to Farm Tourism. Reports state that Kerala has 30.22 lakhs hectares of gross cropped area which is 56.78% of the State’s total geographical area. More than 1/3rd of the cropped area contains plantations of Tea, Coffee, Rubber, Pepper, Cardamom and Ginger, and another 1/3rd of this area is covered by Coconut plantations. The State has about 350,000 lakhs hectares of land under paddy cultivation.
The tourists who come to Kerala expects to see the real beauty that lies in the rural part of the state. But what happens often is, they return without seeing it. They have read about Kerala as true traditional and cultural state with families based in love. But they don’t get the opportunity to experience the village life and to live within that atmosphere. Most tourists come from cultures which does not give much importance to family attachments & village or Rural Life. In villages people live in harmony with nature which is otherwise not possible in big cities where people are always business minded. You get fresh air & fresh water in villages in contrast to polluted air and polluted water in cities.
Farm tourism gives ample opportunity for tourists as well as locals, who wish to enjoy nature. The various schemes underway are intended to prepare the Farms/Plantations of Kerala to receive tourists by presenting a positive image of the farm and of agriculture as a whole, in view of revitalising the agriculture sector of Kerala through tourism.