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Kerala’s new Tourism Policy 2017, unveiled by Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Co-Operation, Tourism and Devaswom, Government of Kerala, envisages the creation of new customised products for attracting young travellers, professionals, students and artists to the state.The policy emphasises on the active participation of the differently-abled and transgenders while implementing the Responsible Tourism Mission across the state to promote the tourism sector.

The Department of Tourism, Kerala, has proposed to establish a Kerala Tourism Regulatory Authority (KTRA) to ensure quality service for tourists and curb unhealthy practices in the tourism sector. The supreme authority would be responsible for monitoring the functioning of different stakeholders. An investment cell would be formed to help potential investors, especially NRIs.

Speaking about the objective of the new policy, Surendran said, “There is an immediate need to improve the infrastructure facilities across various destinations of the state. The new policy aims to address the key issues of the tourism industry in cooperation with the local bodies such as waste management and renovation of roads. The state has immense tourism potential to attract travellers from all corners of the world.”

“Following the Responsible Tourism Mission, Kerala Tourism has guided all the regional bodies and authorities concerned to implement and follow the Green Protocol at all the destinations of Kerala,” he further added.

In order to promote the state’s tourism, Kerala Tourism plans to strengthen its overseas campaign. Additionally, the tourism department has plans to develop select locations with public-private participation (PPP) on the lines of the Jadayupara Tourism Project.

The tourism board would also promote monsoon tourism amongst domestic and international travellers. While promoting experiential tourism, Kerala Tourism would provide the travellers with an opportunity to experience the rural life for the raw travelling experience. Following the lining up of new marketing strategies, the department has proposed to establish 1,000 new classified homestays to promote homestays and rural tourism.

Speaking about the development plans, Mr. P. Bala Kiran, IAS, Director, Kerala Tourism, and Managing Director, Kannur International Airport said, “With the aim to implement ‘Barrier Free Kerala Tourism’ this year, Kerala Tourism has planned to initiate new infrastructure development projects in order to create accessible and friendly spaces to the differently abled, elderly tourists and transgenders.”

The tourism board has also planned to revise the classification system for Ayurveda centres, houseboats and other services with strict norms. In addition to that, a special rating would be introduced for hotels based on the quality of service provided.

Speaking about the objective of the tourism policy, Dr Venu V, Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, stated, “The tourism department is keen to appoint a brand ambassador for Kerala Tourism in order to promote the state’s tourism across the globe. The priority has always been to promote Responsible Tourism with the active participation of the local bodies and citizens. The new policy would continue to focus on these two main objectives of Kerala Tourism.”

“The sole objective is to double the foreign tourist arrivals and increase domestic tourist arrivals by 50%, by 2021”, he further added.

Moreover, the tourism board has planned to associate itself with organising international events hosted by the state such as the International Film Festival of Kerala, book festival and music festival. A special campaign for promoting major festivals would be launched, while an advance festival calendar would be published.