Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar inaugurated the Malabar River Festival at Iruvazhinjipuzha at Pulikkayam

Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar has promised to consider a proposal to set up a kayaking academy at Thusharagiri, a place that he says has the potential to be a tourism hotspot.

He was inaugurating the Malabar River Festival at Iruvazhinjipuzha at Pulikkayam on Friday.

The Minister said Thusharagiri had the potential to be a major global tourism centre the way Alappuzha had won a place in world tourism map with its house boats. The State government had ambitious plans to develop tourism in Thusharagiri, the Minister announced.

Mr. Anil Kumar flagged off the kayaking event at the festival. Italian kayaking coach Jacopo Nordara also entered the river to signal the start of the river festival.

The excitement generated by the event sparked a desire in the Minister to try his hand at kayaking. Slipping into a helmet and a jacket, he soon joined a few others to kayak in the river.

Representatives of six countries participated in the kayaking. Besides India, volunteers from the US, Britain, Nepal, Italy and Zambia were seen in action.

Since strong currents and heavy rains add to excitement of kayaking, organisers hope to conduct the event next year in July.

C. Moieenkutty, MLA, presided over the launch of kayaking and the river festival. District Panchayat president Kanathil Jameela, District Collector C.A. Latha, president of Kodencherry panchayat Antony Nirvelil, and president of Thiruvambadi panchayat Eliamma George were among those present.

Minister for ST Welfare P.K. Jayalakshmi will be the chief guest at the function to distribute prizes to winners in various competitions on Saturday. A cash award of Rs 60,000 awaits the champion.