The need of the hour is tourism development with emphasis on protecting the environment, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said.

Inaugurating the Rs.30-crore project to revive Akkulam Lake, at a function organised in Akkulam tourist village here on Wednesday, the Chief Minister called for more emphasis on responsible tourism and ecotourism.

“Nature should not be exploited for tourism development. Commitment to nature comes first. Without nature, there is no tourism,” Mr. Achuthanandan said.

He added that many lakes were being polluted and reclaimed. Akkulam Lake is no exception, he said, promising steps to protect lakes in peril. The Chief Minister said Akkulam project should be completed in a time-bound manner to make Akkulam and Veli major tourist attractions of the capital city.

The water-hyacinth infested lake would be dredged and cleared of waste as part of the project. Protective walls would be constructed along the banks with 10-metre wide footpaths on three sides. The Kerala Maritime Development Corporation, Travancore Cements Limited and the Inland Navigation Corporation have been entrusted with the work.

The Chief Minister said that tourism sector was on the path to recovery after global recession. The government intends to promote domestic tourism and decentralised tourism development.

Mr. Achuthanandan said tourism was one of the sectors that could make rapid strides during the last four years.

Kerala has developed as one of the prime destinations in the country, he added.