Kerala Tourism Department to silence detractors with movies on elephant care and festivals

Stung by the rising campaigns against God’s Own Country in international platforms, the Kerala Tourism Department has decided to make films of elephant care and majestic festivals featuring the cultur

Published: 25th April 2018 01:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th April 2018 02:27 AM   |  A+A-

Elephants being paraded for a pooram (file pic)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Stung by the rising campaigns against God’s Own Country in international platforms, the Kerala Tourism Department has decided to make films of elephant care and majestic festivals featuring the culture and tradition of the state to counter social media campaigns against the state on international platforms.

Various animal rights groups have been campaigning against Kerala outside the country urging  foreign nationals who visit India to boycott the state to check the torture against temple elephants. The move comes at a time when the state Tourism Department is trying hard to market Gods Own Country on various global tourism platforms.       

In the latest development, a group of  British campaigners, including celebrities like Dan Richardson and actress Joanna Lumley staged a protest outside the country’s High Commission in London, and they have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to change the systems allowing the cruelty to continue unchecked.

The live video of Dan asking for an end to the abuse and torture of the so-called ‘temple elephants’ in religious and cultural festivals in Kerala went viral with over 11,000  people viewing it in a couple of days after the post.

State Tourism Director P Bala Kiran told Express it is worrying for a state like Kerala which is trying hard to reposition itself as a unique brand to cater to international travellers looking beyond the ‘Golden Triangle’ - a tourist circuit which connects the national capital Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

In fact, the videos of elephant torture being circulated by the so-called animal welfare groups across the world have nothing to do with present reality in the sector.

Many of the videos being shown in the visual media or circulated on social media were at least 5-10 years old. The state is taking care of its elephants in a very gentle way in the recent period after increased vigil and the festival venues are not ‘torture venues’ as claimed by them.

If it is a venue for torturing elephants, whether the foreign tourists who visit the state would ever evince any interest in visiting such places once again, he asked, stating the festivals are one of the major attractions for the foreigners who visit Kerala every year.

In this backdrop, the department has decided to document its healthy upkeep of elephants and majestic features of festivals and its traditions with an objective to counter the anti-Kerala campaigns in various platforms.

These videos will serve the purpose of spreading the message of the rich culture, tradition and unique rituals of the state along with countering the anti-state social media campaigns.

The festival tradition has over 100 years of history while the foreign tourist have started to throng the festival venues hardly 20 years ago. So there is a major contradiction in their arguments that it would cease to an end if foreigners chose to stay away from visiting Kerala, he said.

In the past 10 years, the international media have been giving more focus on the issues in the elephant sector in Kerala. International media groups like The Telegraph, The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Dodo and National Geographic have given over a dozen reports in connection with the issues in the captive elephant sector in Kerala.   

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