Kerala's plan to tap the potential in the tourism sector of the ancient spice route treaded by merchants and explorers in search of spices and herbs has received support from the UNESCO.
The Spice Route Project is aimed at sharing the heritage among the 31 countries along the ancient route. The initiative is expected to bring in a substantial number of foreign tourists to Kerala to trace the historic journey.
The UN cultural agency's backing for the Spice Route Project of the state government came during meetings and presentations by a team of officials from Kerala in Paris last week.
The meetings were led by India's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UNESCO Vinay Sheel Oberoi and Kerala Tourism Secretary Suman Billa.
Billa also met Unesco's Assistant Secretary-General (Culture) Francesco Bandarin and Ambassadors of several countries that are part of the Spice Route.
During his meeting with Billa, Bandarin supported the idea of the project and lauded Kerala's initiative in reviving a lost heritage.
"We are delighted to receive the support of UNESCO for the Spice Route Project," Kerala's Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar said.
The centre-piece of the project is Kochi-Kodungallur belt in central Kerala, where the ancient spice port Muziris was located and where merchants from West Asia and Mediterranean region came by sea and land.
Archaeological evidence from excavations carried out by the Kerala government in Muziris have already given boost to the project. They have pointed to spice trade between Muziris-- a port that flourished two millennia ago and the West, before it mysteriously disappeared.
Earlier, the Spice Route initiative had received the support of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
The project was aimed at re-establishing Kerala's maritime ties with the countries on the Spice Route and also promoting tourism and revive cultural, historical and archaeological exchanges between these nations.