On a par with encouraging public-private partnership, the State government aims to ensure people’s participation in tourism development, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Thursday.

He was speaking while inaugurating the seventh edition of the four-day Kerala Travel Mart through video-conferencing here. “This policy will ensure a bigger role for people of each locality in tourism development. This apart, importance has been given to ensure protection and preservation of the environment since nature is a prime asset of the State. Nature has to be preserved at its best for coming generations.”

Mr Chandy spoke of how investors evinced interest in tourism projects showcased at the Emerging Kerala investment summit, especially the seaplane project.

Commuting woes

The commuting woes of Kerala’s citizenry and tourists visiting the State were aired by Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K. V. Thomas. He recounted how it took four and a half hours to travel from Ernakulam to Oachira for him. “One can cover the Bangalore-Hyderabad distance in the same time.”

Garbage management is another issue and this is polluting both land and water. Alappuzha once boasted of virgin waterbodies, which have been polluted now. Tourists have to cover their nose and enter the boats. Hartals and frequent strikes was another turn off for tourists, the worst affected being those on package tours, Mr Thomas said.

The Minister for Tourism A P Anil Kumar highlighted Kerala’s natural and social advantages, which offer a refreshing experience to guests. He said that an integrated tourism master plan and a fast-track clearance system for projects have been planned.

In his address, Finance Minister KM Mani said the environment must be clean if tourism has to thrive.

The Secretary of Kerala Tourism B Suman spoke of the need to ensure the quality of visitor experience. “The focus must be on the benefits to the community. Plans are afoot to begin a Muziris heritage circuit, around the ancient trade centre.”

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