The largely unexplored localities around the famed Bekal Fort is all set to emerge as major global tourism destination in the ‘God’s Own Country’ Kerala in a few years from now with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy drawing up a clear road map for speeding up the ongoing infrastructure developmental projects around the picturesque locale.

“Bekal, with its historic splendour and picturesque locality would be turned into yet another major tourist destination in the State to implement Responsible Tourism,” he said, inaugurating the ‘Know Bekal’ campaign that also mark the three-day familiarisation campaign at the Taj Hotel resort near Bekal to showcase the amenities, attractions, history, culture and heritage of the coastal town to the world,” he said.

'Where else can you find beaches, backwaters and hills all within a few kilometers?' asked the chief minister, referring to the variety of options offered by this town.

Over the last five years, Kerala had seen rise in global tourist arrival by a whopping 71 per cent and domestic arrival by 49 per cent. The Malabar region witnessed growth of 31 per cent in domestic arrivals to 23.40 lakh and 123 per cent rise in international visitors to 41,342 between 2005 and 2010.

Elaborating on the significance of upcoming Kannur airport in promoting tourism in north Kerala, he said the runway works of the airport would commence this fiscal and a high level meeting had been convened in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday for expanding the Kozhikode airport.

The work of an airstrip, to facilitate land of small aircraft would also be taken up shortly, he said.

Stating that the coastal belts in the State remained to be one of the most neglected areas in Kerala, he said efforts would also be made to upgrade basic infrastructure which included addressing the acute drinking water scarcity in the affected localities.

The Bekal Resort Development Corporation (BRDC) that was formed in 1995, had acquired and developed more than 230 acres land for setting up of resorts, he said.

Six hotel resorts are being set up in the project area on priority basis and two of them had already been commissioned and was looking to put this coastal town firmly on the tourism map of the nation, he said.

The immediate target is to double tourist inflow to Bekal from the present figure of 3.20 lakh mark by 2015.

Presently there are around 50 properties in the area offering nearly 1,000 rooms. More budget hotels, home stays, villas and ayurveda centres would shortly start functioning around the 17th century magnificent and historic fort facing the Arabian Sea.