Kadakampalli Surendran, Minister of Tourism, Government of Kerala inaugurated ‘Responsible Tourism Mission’ project aimed at the development of local communities and growth of tourism to state. With the announcement of various Onam packages under Responsible Tourism mission to be available till September 30, Tourism Minister unveiled the promotional video and concept card of the festive theme “Nattinpurangalil Onam Unnaam, Onasammanangal Vangam (Let’s have Onam feast in villages and get Onam gifts).
“Nattinpurangalil Onam Unnaam, Onasammanangal Vangam” project comprises of various Onam packages for tourists and integrates small enterprises run by the local communities and responsible tourism units. Through this project, tourists can enjoy the raw travelling experience while participating in household Onam celebrations. Moreover, it will help interested local families to welcome tourists to their homes and treat them with Onasadya- the festival feast.
Surendran said, “The government has allotted INR 4.5 crore for the new venture and all the projects executed by Responsible Tourism mission are aimed at development of the local community. A human resource directory has been prepared to provide jobs to people across the state. As Kerala Tourism aims at offering raw traveling experience, we are hopeful that this initiative will further help us in attracting more domestic & international tourists to the state.”
“Additionally we have announced some special tour packages for this season during Onam and so far, we have received overwhelming response in the initial phase itself. We will extend this project to all 14 districts further”, he further added.
With the aim to introduce the traditions and festivities of Onam to travellers, the tourism department is providing an opportunity for the tourists to participate in Onam celebrations while enjoying Onasadya and watching Onakalikal. The natives as well as foreign tourists both will be benefited from the project.
“Started in 7 destinations, the project will be extended across the state in the coming season. Hitherto, as many as 126 households, 63 home stays and 34 restaurants have come forth for the package. Around 650 families across the 7 destinations have registered to explore the feast Onasadya. Furthermore, we hosted around 170 international tourists and 146 domestic tourists under Onam packages of responsible tourism. Kerala Tourism will shift its entire business to responsible tourism model in the way ahead,” said P Balakiran, IAS, Director, Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala.
The project model is classified into two stages to promote small enterprises such as local restaurants, tea shops and hotels and to encourage travellers to buy locally made products such as organic vegetables, Khadi textiles, handicrafts and traditional dishes. It focuses on destinations such as Wayanad, Kovalam, Kumarakam, Vaikom and Bekal.
The first part of the project “Onam special Gramayatrakal” (Onam special village tours) intends to introduce the rural belt of Kerala to the tourists during Onam seasons. Along with guided tours to the villages, tourists can buy Onam gifts from the responsible tourism ventures. Important tourist centers from each area which are desired by national and international tourists as well as local and NRI Malayalee crowd are also included in the packages. The second part of the project intends to reach the authentic Onam celebrations from the villages to the tourists. Along with Thiruvathirakali, Onasadya and others, tourists will be introduced to the respective local activities of each place, like Shikkara Boat Rides, village boat trips, coir manufacturing, fishing, toddy tapping, pottery, weaving and such traditional sectors and styles of Kerala.
“The Onam gifts provided to the tourists will be destination specific products and souvenirs. The tourists can enjoy the authentic Onam celebrations being held in Kerala. This is a great initiative which will help to protect the customs and traditions through tourism by ensuring income for the villagers”, said Rupesh Kumar K, State RT mission coordinator, Kerala Responsible Tourism mission.
“Facilities such as geo-tagging which enables the tourist to know location specific information such as cuisine and other local attractions will be included soon,” he further added.
As part of the responsible tourism project, people can upload pictures and videos of Onam celebrations along with other information on the project website. As a result, the local Onam celebrations held throughout Kerala can be gathered and documented. By making the regional Onam celebrations available through the website to tourists, we are hopeful to generate significant interest amongst the tourists to visit Kerala during Onam. The packages range from INR 2000 to 8000, benefitting Kudumbasree units in the villages, weaving centres, homely meals enterprises and others.