THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The resurgent Kerala Tourism is looking at ways to bounce back in style in the New Year with a host of events and programmes to woo tourists, both domestic and international, to God’s Own Country. According to senior officials, the department is planning to introduce a dragon boat race from next year with a view to entertaining tourists who visit regatta venues. Further, the department has decided to hold a snake boat race at Marine Drive in Kochi, the nerve centre of tourism activities in the state.
The department couldn’t hold the IPL-model Champions Boat League of snake boats in 2018 owing to the August flood. In 2019, the department will hold the event as per the schedule of 2018, but there will be some additions and omissions in venues like Marine Drive finding place in the final list. Further, the department plans to introduce dragon boat race for the first time in the state which features long decorated boats propelled by oarsmen with decorated paddles.
While the scintillating snake boat competition will be for the coveted silver trophy bearing the signature of Jawaharlal Nehru, the dragon boat race will be introduced with the sole purpose of entertaining tourists.
A meeting of department heads, including tourism and finance, held the other day discussed the proposal and the state government is expected to accord permission to the project, said a senior officer.
Tourism Secretary Rani George told ‘Express’ that every Saturday there would be one boat race league which is the aim of the department in the season. She said the tourism sector has almost bounced back to normalcy during the fag end of 2018.
Though the state witnessed a drop of 18.46 and 18.16 per cent in the foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in August and September, it has picked up momentum by November itself with the negative growth narrowing to just 7.25, comparing the FTAs in the corresponding period in 2017.
Further, the overall variation is just minus 0.2 till November this year when compared to 2017, indicating the state is on the verge of coming to growth track. Besides, the department has chalked out an action plan to hold an active national and trans-national marketing campaign in 2019 to take the state back into the growth track.
The state will be holding special campaigns in West Asian countries, and inviting writers both from national and international destinations to write about Kerala on social media platforms in various languages, apart from holding road shows and fairs, she said. The government would give thrust to develop infrastructure facilities in North Kerala, the potential of which is yet to be tapped to the hilt. The projects in line included Thalasserry Heritage project, Malabar River Cruise Project, etc.