Kerala celebrates Vishu festival

Vishu Kani

Vishu KaniKerala celebrates the summer harvest festival Vishu with traditional fervour.People woke up to see the Vishu Kani looking at the auspicious articles such as rice, gold and the glowing seasonal flower ‘konna’ and fruits and vegetables.Children all over Kerala enjoyed the festival by bursting crackers and received cash gifts from their elder family members better known as ‘Vishu Kaineettam’.

The highlight of the festival is always a sumptuous feast with several dishes mostly made of seasonal vegetables and fruits such as cucumber, plantine, mango and jackfruit topped with the local dessert ‘payasam’.

Munnar Tourism Project

Revised ordinance awaited for Munnar tourism project

Giji K. Raman

KATTAPPANA: The Munnar Tourism Development Authority (MTDA) will start implementing the tourism master plan after the Governor promulgates a revised ordinance to take over land in the hill town and nearby areas.

The original Kanan Devan Hills (Taking Over by Resumption of Certain Lands) Ordinance met with resistance as some residential areas were included in the 400-hectare project area.

The master plan envisages an internationally acclaimed tourism destination, with emphasis on environmental protection. The authority, which was formed on July 24, held its first meeting on August 3.

M. Rajesh, Secretary, Idukki District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), told The Hindu that the State government planned to revise the ordinance.

The master plan stresses environmental protection and successful tourism to improve the lives of the local community. The grama panchayats of Munnar, Devikulam, Pallivasal, Kanthallur, Chinnakanal and Vattavada have been included on the enlarged tourism map.

The construction activities will not interfere with nature. Rules have been laid down for buildings and infrastructure such as roads.

“Munnar already has a prime place on the global tourism map and what is needed is infrastructure development without harming the sensitive environment of the region,” Mr. Rajesh said.

The authority is the nodal agency for facilitating sustained tourism development. The Tourism Director is its chairman and the District Collector, the vice-chairman. The members include the local MLA; the DTPC secretary; the District Environment Engineer of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board; the Forest Conservator (High Range circle); the District Town Planner; and the presidents of the six grama panchayats. The master plan, prepared after a terrain analysis study by the Centre for Earth Science Studies, demarcates environmentally sensitive zones, where constructions are not allowed. The rules for construction govern the height of buildings, structural design, exterior paint and roof. The authority will clear applications for building of resorts or hotels, in consultation with the grama panchayats.

Kerala State’s tourism policy hailed

Kerala State’s tourism policy hailed

Special Correspondent

KOCHI: T. Balakrishnan, Additional Chief Secretary, Industries & Commerce, has said the State is on the right path in promoting a distinct brand of tourism.

It took about 25 years to attain the current image, he said at the Kerala Brand Conclave 2010, a meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry here on Saturday.

Charting the growth of the brand image, he said the State was an unknown entity in the tourism map two-and-a-half decades ago. Backwaters and Ayurveda were brought to the focal point in a bid to make a difference from the existing image of hot and crowded destinations of North India.

Declaring tourism as an industry and formulating a tourism master plan were among the initiatives which gave a firm footing to the sector. The promotional theme ‘God’s Own Country’ was not a hit initially.

Though it was substituted by ‘Green Kerala,’ the original one was retained later, he said. Tourism infrastructure was grossly inadequate during those days. For instance, Munnar had only a guest house to accommodate tourists when the promotion drive began. Public-private participatory efforts, travel marts and online propaganda converted Kerala into a global player. Eco tourism projects as well as tie-ups with airlines and tour operators helped the image to get elevated further, he said.

R. Dinesh, Joint Managing Director, T.V. Sundaram Iyengar & Sons Limited, in his keynote address, said the perception of the customer was more important than that of the company in building up a brand image. The brand was as good as the implementation of it. Living up to the brand value should be the attitude of every person in the organisation, he said.

Ram Selvaratnam, vice-president, Infosys Technologies Limited, said co-creation was an effective strategy for brand promotion. Several companies designed and made products based on customer feedback.


It was a trip down memory lane for Dr Jane Willaims when she visited the Kerala United Theological Seminary in Thiruvananthapuram today alongwith her husband and archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowam Willaims as it was in that campus she was born and spent her early childhood.

“It is marvellous to be back here”, Jane, who was born Thiruvananthapuram when her father Rev Geoffrey Paul was a teacher at the seminary, said.

“Though the campus has changed with new buildings coming up over the years, I still could recall the scene where I grew up till an eight year old”, Dr Jane said.

“I particularly remember a tree on the campus under which I used to play. It was full of caterpillars,” she said.

Jane, however, said she had only a vague recollection of what the capital city of Kerala was like those days. “Obviously, a lot of changes have occurred, which are inevitable”, she said during a chat with reporters.

The Willaims and their son Pip also had a look at the cottage on the campus where her parents lived.

Later, the seminary chapel was dedidcated in the name of her father Rev Geoffrey Paul and a couple of siblings were planted to mark the visit of the couple’s visit to the campus.

A missionary-priest, Rev Geofrey Paul served in Palayamkottai and Thiruvananthapuram. He headed the department of the New Testament in the seminary and later became its principal before returning to England in 1965.


1 luxury cruise ships to visit Kochi this year

Staff Reporter

13 luxury liners have already called at Kochi port this financial year.

KOCHI: Kochi’s emergence as the busiest cruise destination in the country will once again be highlighted with the city expecting to host 41 luxury cruise liners this financial year.

According to figures provided by Cochin Port Trust authorities, the Port will have a busy cruise season this financial year and the following two years.

Sources in the Port Trust said that 13 luxury liners have already called at the Port this financial year, starting April this year. Luxury liner ‘The World’ called at Kochi on April 4 with 100 passengers and 120 crew to kick off the year in a grand fashion.

The last cruise vessel to call at the port here was ‘Oceanic,’ with 930 passengers and 330 crew, on August 16. Another 28 vessels are expected at Kochi during this financial year. The new season will start off with the arrival of ‘Aida Aura,’ here on Sunday. The vessel will bring 1,266 passengers and 950 crew.

Eleven of the 41 vessels expected to call here during the financial year will have more than a 1,000 passengers. Two of these vessels, ‘Queen Mary 2′ and ‘Queen Elizabeth’ will bring 2,500 and 2,000 passengers respectively.

The total number of cruisers, who will have visited Kochi during the financial year will be nearly 30,000, more than any of the preceding years.

Year 2011-12 also promises to be a busy year for cruise operations in Kochi with current updates showing that the Port will host 31 cruise liners during the year. Large liners like ‘Brilliance of the Seas,’ expected to bring 2,112 passengers and ‘Arcadia,’ expected to bring 2,120 passengers are some of the biggest vessels expected here during 2011-12.

A total of 11 vessels scheduled to call at Kochi during the next financial year are likely to bring more than 1,000 passengers. Four of them have the capacity for more than 2,000 passengers each. Updates on the schedule for the year 2012-13 indicate that 12 vessels have already booked their place in Kochi, starting April 1, 2012 when cruise liner AIDAdiva calls at Kochi. The big vessels expected during 2012-13 are ‘Brilliance of the Seas’ and ‘Queen Mary 2.’


Thiruvananthapuram: Heavy rains continued to batter most parts of south and central Kerala for the fourth consecutive day Thursday claiming at least one life and causing damage to crops and properties across the region. According to the weathermen the heavy downpour is set to continue for two more days.

Capital city Thiruvananthapuram and the adjoining Kollam suffered the most as the downpour became more vigorous since Tuesday night bringing low-lying areas under water and damaging scores of houses, besides creating traffic snarls.

Holiday has been declared in all the educational institutions in the two districts in view of inclement weather as the monsoons gained momentum under the combined influence of the depression in the Bay of Bengal and a trough in the Arabian sea.

Relief camps were opened in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram where about 300 affected families had been shifted since Tuesday evening. Nearly 200 houses were destroyed and another 700 partly damaged in the area, government sources said.

Rivers and rivulets in south Kerala are on spate and an alert has been sounded for the people living on the banks as the shutters of dams could be opened if the upstream got further flooded, sources said.


Kottayam: Stating that responsible tourism initiatives will promote tourism in the state, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation chairman Cheriyan Philip has said responsible tourism introduces tourists the life style and methods of local people.

Many projects were developed through active participation of local populce and the concept that tourism could be developed only with the help of politicians proved wrong, Philip said at a function to honour persons who have made contributions to tourism at a function in Kumarakom here.

He said the main attraction is organic farming and a portion of income received from the sale of farm products distributed among local workers. With all these developments and initiatives, Kumarakom will soon become one of the most favoured tourism destination in the world, Philip said.

Helicopters Introduced Into Kerala Tourism

Helicopters Introduced Into Kerala Tourism

Kochi: Cochin International Airport ltd (CIAL), the airport company, today launched a Heli Taxi service which can be utilised for transporting pilgrims and tourists to various destinations.

CIAL Managing Director DR CG Krishnadas Nair and director M A Yusuff Ali flaged off the first flight here this morning. TDB president, M Rajagopalan Nair was also present.

The HeliTaxi belongs to Bangalore Bharath Airways Private Limited, and has over 20 years of experience in Helicopter operation.

Necessary sanctions have been obtained from authorities to operate the service, airport sources said.

CIAL had recently launched its tourism division in association with over 30 Tour operators.

It has also obtained permission from Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa, for operating this service to Nilakkal (Foothills of Sabarimala) with an intention to carry pilgrims and to Saramkuttiyal (near Sannidhanam) for emergency purposes like causality evacuation and movement connected with security requirements.

The Helicopter, American made Bell-407, can carry 5 passengers and two Pilots. The expected flying time from Cochin to Nilakkal is 30 minutes.

The Heli Taxi can operate approximately for 30 Hrs in a month, and is hoping to take a minimum of 150 passengers to various locations in the state.


Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala tourism needed some good news after being hit by global recession and the Thekkady boat tragedy in September. It has got the pep with the National Geographic rating its backwaters as the world’s 23rd best destination, giving the sector a reason to smile.

State Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the rating by National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations has come as a shot in the arm for the industry.

“We will make this new certification as our USP. We have now finished a series of road shows in Europe and our next round of road shows in Italy, France, and Australia will take place. We will make this certification our main campaign point,” Balakrishnan said.

Over the years Kerala’s tourism industry has recorded consistent growth. In 2008 there was 14.84 percent growth in tourism revenue while tourist arrivals grew 14.41 percent over 2007.

But the tourism sector in Alappuzha, known for its houseboat tourism and which earned this certification for the industry, wants urgent promotional steps by the government.

Tomy Pulikattil, who owns a fleet of houseboats including those that can accommodate more than 100 people, said after the Thekkady tragedy the tourism season appears to have dried up. At least 45 people had died when a boat overturned in Thekkady.

“The government has to launch a series of promotional activities because the fear of Thekkady still lingers in north India. The truth is that never has a tragedy occurred in the houseboat industry. A houseboat can bear a load from 30 tonnes to a maximum of 120 tonnes and the design of a houseboat is totally different to that of a motor boat,” said Pulikattil, who recently conducted an inclination test by a marine expert on all his boats.

Kerala’s peak tourism season begins mid-November and extends till March.

Tour operators bring tourists from across the world during the peak season to Kerala. This year, however, there was the fear that the charter flights may not arrive.

Tourism Minister Balakrishnan said: “Initially we were told that charter flights might not arrive, but now we are told that our campaigns did help and a few of them are coming. This has been one saving grace for us. Another sector this season which is expected to do well is cruise tourism.”

Jose Dominic, who heads CGH Earth one of the biggest players in the tourism industry, is hopeful that the National Geographic certification will give his business a boost.

With six premier resorts, Dominic is getting ready for the new season by taking over the marketing and operations of seven luxurious bungalows in the picturesque hill resort of Munnar that are more than a century old and belong to the Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Pvt Ltd (KDHP) group.

“Tourism is one industry where people look for a real experience that is unique and local. Our strategies are always on this line and hence we think differently. This Munnar experiment by us forms part of this and is our way of presenting Munnar,” Dominic said.


Kerala Tourism received PATA Gold at the PATA Travel Mart 2009 which was held recently in Hangzhou, China. The Gold Award for ‘Marketing ? Secondary Government Destination’ category was for Kerala’s entry ‘Dream Season in God’s Own Country,’ which was judged the best from amongst 236 entries worldwide.

Conceptualized and executed by Stark Communications, the ‘Dream Season’ campaign objective was to convert the traditional off season in Kerala into a season of opportunity for domestic travelers. It positioned Kerala as a year-round affordable and inviting destination. This is what the judging panel had to say: “Not easy to find a solution to counter seasonality. The concept of a dream season is brilliant. The dream season campaign is terrific.”

Director of Kerala Tourism, Mr. M. Sivasankar received the PATA Gold award on behalf of the state. Also in Hangzhou for the Travel Mart were representatives from CGH Earth, Travancore Heritage, Thomas Holidays and Somatheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort, who were part of the Kerala Tourism pavilion.

PATA Travel Mart is Asia Pacific’s most important and influential travel and tourism industry networking and contracting event. More than 1,000 delegates and media attended this year’s PATA Travel Mart (including 591 Sellers from 38 destinations a5 Buyers from 51 source markets).

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