“Discover Kerala” initiative for UAE nationals

DUBAI: A Malayalee association is organising a unique initiative to lead a delegation from UAE to Kerala for exploring the art, culture and traditions of the south Indian state.

The initiative “Discover Kerala”, which has been taken up by the World Malayalee Council (WMC) in association with Kerala Tourism Ministry, will enable a group of 20 UAE nationals to visit “God’s own country” by the year-end.

“Through the first-of-its-kind initiative, WMC aims to familiarise the chosen delegates, including government officials and prominent community members, with Kerala’s tourism potentials, especially backwater tourism and eco-tourism, and the art forms, culture and traditions of the state,” WMC publicity and media convener Sajan Veloor said.

“We are also trying to let them understand the potentials of Ayurvedic treatment methods,” Veloor said, adding, this will be the first time that a group of Emiratis are visiting Kerala on an official trip.

“Officials of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing have already expressed their interest in such an initiative. On the other hand, we have secured the support from the Kerala Tourism Ministry. Our members from the business community are sponsoring the Emirati delegation, by bearing all expenses for their travel and stay,” he said.

The initiative has been announced as part of the 17th anniversary celebrations of WMC which were held in Dubai on Friday. The association has also decided to sponsor the education of 1,000 students from villages in Kerala for a year and would also support an awareness campaign against pollution of rivers in the state.

From TOI

Sound and light show at Meenakshi temple

Rs. 1.76 crore sanctioned for the purpose

MADURAI: Preliminary work for establishing a sound and light show at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple here has commenced with North Adi Street being chosen as the location.

A sum of Rs. 1.76 crore was sanctioned for the purpose in the State budget, according to R. Padmanaban, Executive Officer.

He took charge on Thursday from R. Sudarshan, Joint Commissioner (Madurai Region), Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, who was holding additional charge.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said the show would be in English and Tamil and could be for 30 minutes. It would focus on the temple history, architecture, sculptures and its significance.

A short documentary film on the Meenakshi temple has been commissioned by the HR and CE department.

“The film would focus on the rituals and festivals being performed for the deity. As foreigners are not allowed inside sanctum sanctorum, they can learn about the rituals from this short film.

A projector would be installed inside the temple premises to show this documentary in the evening hours,” he informed.

Initiative

A similar initiative was undertaken at Sri Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai, for which Mr. Padmanaban was the Thakkar before joining here. The Meenakshi temple would become second temple in the State to have a short film to be taken with Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameswaram likely to be third.

Speaking about other works under way, he said that estimates were being prepared for constructing a marriage hall at Ellis Nagar at a cost of Rs. 10 crore.

A Rs. 23-lakh estimate for replacing cracked stones at the Veeravasantharayar Mandapam near the East Tower of the temple has been sent to the State Government.

Renovation

He said that the Rs. 40-lakh renovation work for kumbabhishekam of Muktheeswarar Temple, a sub-temple of Meenakshi Temple, would be completed in two months. Modernisation and other electrification works under way at the Thousand Pillar Hall Museum of the Meenakshi temple, for which Rs. 1.55 crore was sanctioned by the Tourism Department, were nearing completion.

The temple’s Icon Centre at Sellur, which would house all unprotected idols from in and around Madurai Region, would be completed in a month.

Contribution

While the Public Works Department, which is constructing the Centre, had contributed Rs. 28 lakh, the Meenakshi temple had pitched in Rs. 7 lakh.

From THE HINDU

Courtallam overflows with tourists

SPLASH: The tourist season at Courtallam waterfalls has started on a high note as the incessant drizzle ensured good flow in all the falls on Sunday. — Photo: A. Shaikmohideen

Good inflow in all waterfalls

TIRUNELVELI: Courtallam, the major attraction of the district, was overflowing with the tourists from various parts of Tamil Nadu on Sunday, as all waterfalls at the ‘ Spa of the South’ were gushing after incessant drizzle in the Western Ghats.

Though other parts of Tirunelveli district did not experience any rainfall on Saturday night, Courtallam was blessed with continuous sprinkle till Sunday evening, which was enough to ensure good inflow in Main Falls, Old Falls, Five Falls and Tiger Falls.

Traffic snarl

On coming to know about the commencement of season at Courtallam on a high note, tourists from Madurai, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari, had come to Courtallam in hundreds of vehicles that caused a traffic snarl on the Main Falls – Five Falls stretch for a while.

Additional police personnel have been deployed near Main Falls and Five Falls round-the-clock.

From THE HINDU

Aggressive measures needed to tackle civic problems prevailing in the Nilgiris

Udhagamandalam: The parking lot for tourist vehicles just off the road leading to the Government Botanical Garden, the most popular tourist spot in this vacation destination is crammed even after the commencement of the wet season, clearly indicating that be it Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn, the Blue Mountains (The Nilgiris) continues to be South India’s premier hill station, notwithstanding its haphazard development.

Thanks to the disturbances in tourist resorts like Kashmir, more tourists are flocking to Udhagamandalam and the nearby towns as a result of which there is a steady stream of visitors round the year.

However there is feeling among the concerned citizens of the Nilgiris that the tourist traffic is being taken for granted.

Already discerning tourists, both domestic and foreign, are reluctant to make a repeat visit, particularly to Udhagamandalam.

“We have had enough,” is their refrain, adverting to the lack of civic amenities.

In particular, the problems relating to parking are testing their patience.

During the just-concluded season, inadequate space and consequent haphazard parking was the most glaring shortcoming.

The appalling condition of the Kodappamund channel running through the heart of the town made many tourists squirm with disgust.

Apart from being an eye sore, it is now being seen as a major health hazard.

Udhagamandalam, which is already beset with ecological and environmental problems, will soon start resembling a “glorified slum” if steps are not initiated without delay to improve the channel and remove the encroachments in various parts of the town.

Among the other shortcomings pointed out by the tourists were the presence of stray animals like horses, cows and goats on the main roads and the occupation of footpaths by vendors of items ranging from footwear to vegetables.

The roadside encroachments are on the increase, thanks mainly to the “defiant” attitude of small-time politicians who have the blessings of persons with considerable political clout.

Meanwhile, some of the hoteliers and others directly or indirectly dependent on the tourism industry are of the view that too much attention should not be given to the civic problems.

However this is countered by the concerned citizens who opine that attracting tourists “by hook or by crook” does not augur well for the future of the industry, the town and the people.

From THE HINDU

Focus on education tourism in the Nilgiris

Many schools have contributed towards promoting tourism

Special occasions brought good business to hotels, Students tend to spend weekends outside hostels

Udhagamandalam: As it invariably happens after the end of every season in this holiday destination, this year too various sections of the society have embarked on a “stock taking” exercise to identify the highs and lows and plus points and shortcomings of the just concluded season.

It is not known whether anything worthwhile will come out of the exercise. However what is evident is that the number of persons sharing the regret that the district is yet to have the benefit of a proper plan for tourism promotion is on the rise.

This, it is hoped will bring all concerned together and pave the way for proper promotion of tourism.

It has been often pointed out by concerned citizens that the haphazard growth of tourism, if left unchecked will in due course do more harm than good for the district and its people. Tourism should not be taken for granted and different categories of tourists should not be treated alike.

While more and more people are underscoring the need to streamline and qualitatively improve the “one-day” or “overnight” tourism, an aspect of tourism which is being acknowledged by many in the travel and hospitality sectors as being a significant contributor to the economic well being of the Blue Mountains is Education Tourism.

Over the years, the contribution of many of the schools in the district towards promoting tourism has been significant.

Of late, a number of higher educational facilities have also started chipping in.

Over the decades, the contribution of many of the schools in the district towards promoting tourism has been significant, they say.

The Nilgiris, being a renowned place for school education, has been catering to the requirements of students from different parts of the country and the world. The periodical visit of parents and relatives of the children have done a world of good to the cause of tourism.

The Nilgiri Hotels and Restaurants Association (NHRA) Secretary N. Chandrashekar said that whenever leading schools celebrated special occasions like Founders Day, hotels and restaurants did good business at least for a couple of days.

Even during weekends when residential schools allowed their students to stay outside with their relatives, the hotels benefited. Such visitors accounted for about seven per cent of the annual turnover of some of the hotels.

The partner of a departmental shop, Pradeep Mohan said that about 50 per cent of his business came from such customers and if the flow was affected, many traders would find it difficult to survive.

An educationist Umar Farook said that generally four members of a family come to visit their children.

Since thousands of children are studying in residential schools here, the expenditure incurred during such visits add up to a great deal. Students and their parents are a source of regular income, said another businessman.

D. Radhakrishnan From THE HINDU

Tourists flock to Yercaud festival

YERCAUD: The three-day summer and flower festival, which concluded here on Sunday, attracted 7,657 tourists from far and near.

Inaugurated by Commercial Taxes Minister S. N. Ubayadulla and presided over by the Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam on May 28, the festival featured nearly one lakh flowers of different varieties to woo the tourists.

The main attractions in the festival were Micky Mouse, Standing Queen, Flying Horse etc – all made of flowers.

Art and cultural events were also performed.

From THE HINDU

Chennai: Wooing tourists with a song

“Work on this project started about six months ago on a shoe-string budget”

CHENNAI: Much like jingles that sell India abroad — ‘Incredible India’ and Kerala, ‘God’s Own Country,’ the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department too has completed work on a meaningful, melodious, minute-long jingle.

“The aim is to get greater recall value for our advertisements and sell the State on its specific strengths,” says Tourism Secretary V. Irai Anbu. Studies by the department have revealed that catchy jingles have a higher recall value; the inference is that at least a small percentage of that will be converted to tourists to that State.

The lyrics, written by Dr. Irai Anbu, a Tamil scholar with a sense of history, describes Tamil Nadu as the birthplace of arts and a repository of beauty. He captures the natural beauty, the ancient heritage and culture and the uniqueness of the State. The lines have been set to music by Bharadwaj.

“Work on this project started about six months ago on a shoe-string budget,” he says. “I believe that people relate to music in a sub-conscious manner. When you remember the music, you will associate it with images in our State. The song will become an identification point and seeks to unite all stakeholders in Tamil Nadu.”

One set of images have been shot and put together for the jingle, which will be shown in prominent places and on television. “Our aim is to shoot five-six different versions so that we do not repeat the same set of images each time we air it on television,” he says.

Based on the response to the Tamil version, the department proposes to enlarge the campaign to other language domains so that the jingle can also be played across televisions in other States. Last year (2009), 780.38 lakh domestic tourists and 23.69 lakh foreign tourists visited Tamil Nadu. With a series of campaigns and the jingles, the department hopes to attract a substantially higher number this year.

By R.K. Radhakrishnan – From THE HINDU