President Pratibha Devisingh Patil has called for developing Ashtamudi Lake as an international tourism destination incorporating all principles of sustainable and responsible tourism.

She was launching the maiden President's Trophy Boat Race on Ashtamudi Lake here on Tuesday.

The President said Ashtamudi Lake was one of the largest wetland ecosystems that had been included on the list of wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. “This makes the lake an important global heritage spot and for the people of Kollam it means that they have a responsibility to give full attention to its conservation, protection, and sustainable utilisation.”

“It should be borne in mind that to make tourism and development sustainable in Kollam, there should be an endeavour to live in harmony with nature and keep the waters unspoiled and the environment unpolluted by adopting eco-friendly practices,” she said.

For promoting Ashtamudi Lake, the President called for preparing a “well thought out master plan” to be implemented in a time bound manner, for which the Centre, State government, and the private sector should work together.

“If the lake has to be developed as an important tourism destination, rapid expansion of infrastructure is required both in urban areas as well as other tourism destinations around the lake and adjoining beaches. Such development will offer greater opportunity for promoting inclusive growth, where the benefits of tourism will reach all stakeholders.”

She said the launch of the President's Trophy Boat Race was a landmark event which would open up many new vistas for the development of the State in general and Kollam district in particular. “It can place Kollam on the map as an important tourist destination.”

She said efforts would have to be made for an information campaign to draw visitors and to link Kollam with the other places of interest in Kerala, which was attracting a large number of foreign and domestic tourists.

“Today, Kollam is one of the major industrial and commercial centres in Kerala. The city is known to welcome its visitors. Its gracious people extend such warm hospitality that visitors are often overwhelmed. Hence, the proverb ‘Kollam kandaal illam venda,” she said in Malayalam.

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