KOTTAYAM: As part of the efforts to revive the state’s Covid-ravaged tourism sector, the tourism department is planning to introduce a slew of novel initiatives highlighting farm tourism and homestead farming. As per sources, the new scheme will be rolled out by linking tourism with agriculture activities.
The plan is to develop as many as 500 farm tourism units and 5,000 homestead farming places and link them with the tourism activities across the state in two years, in a bid to enhance the ‘village life experience’ programme of the tourism department. The Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission has been assigned with the task, in which farming will be made part of village life activities in tourism programmes. While 10 to 50 acres of land is needed to start farm tourism, homestead farming starts from 30 cents of land.
“The concept of homestead farming includes cultivating mixed crops in minimum areas and exhibiting them for tourism purposes. There is no doubt there will be demand from visitors for fresh and organic products like vegetables, arrowroots, ginger, turmeric and so on. People can visit a farm unit or homestead farm anywhere in the state,” said K Roopesh Kumar, coordinator, State RT Mission.
There will be one agriculture tourism hub in each district, besides a statewide network. Neendoor has been selected as the agriculture hub of Kottayam district. Commencing localised agriculture museums that showcase traditional agriculture equipment like pathayam (storage cabin of rice), pots used for water draining, rice measuring vessels like para, change hi and naazhi. Though the minimum land required for farm tourism is 10 acres, a group of farmers can jointly start a tourism programme similar to the group farming activities in the agriculture sector.
Along with promoting tourism, ‘Farm Tourism’ also helps maintain the balance of nature by giving importance to natural resources. Moreover, it will also make tourism projects more affordable so that people can start projects without investing huge amounts of money.
A total of 168 applications have been received by the department for commencing farm tourism and homestead farming units within a couple days after the announcement in this regard was made by the government. Government will receive applications till August 20 and training for stakeholders will commence by August 30, according to sources.
The government is planning to develop micro destination points across the state with at least one tourism station in each local body. The steps in this regard are progressing and the government already commenced training for LSGD representatives. Tourism activities will be included in the general subjects of local self-government bodies and some of the projects of local bodies will be linked with the tourism sector as well.
Tourism department has also taken steps to bring in a bio-bubble system in the tourism sector by vaccinating entire stakeholders of the industry. While Vythiri in Wayanad has become the first 100 per cent vaccinated tourism destination in the state, vaccination in other centres are also progressing.