Kerala Tourism’s “Spice Route” project, on the lines of the famed Trans-Asian Silk Route through which inter-continental trade was carried out for centuries, will be featured at the 6th International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism at Dunhuang, China, from August 1.

The State’s plans to develop and promote a multi-national spice-themed route modelled on the Silk Road will be presented by Tourism Secretary Suman Billa at the three-day event jointly organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), Gansu Province of China, and others.

The meeting will discuss how to raise the profile of Silk Road tourism and drive development that is sustainable, responsible, and internationally competitive. It will look at how stakeholders can leverage from the Silk Road's positioning and help rebuild the world's most important travel route.

Mr. Billa had already discussed the project with the officials during the recent visit to the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid to present Kumarakom Responsible Tourism model that had already won accolades across the globe. Kerala Tourism is getting a rare honour with the Secretary making a presentation at the conference. The project would throw open more opportunities in tourism, historical research, and spice trade, Mr. Billa told The Hindu. Apart from attracting more tourists to unexplored sites in Kerala,, the project is expected to perk up spice trade especially in cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, and tamarind across the State.

A heritage tag for the ‘Spice Route' is needed as it is essentially a journey through places connected with the State's ancient trade links with the West. The project envisages linking the State, from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod, through the spice route and will trigger voyages and excursions once it takes off. The tourism authorities are trying to link Spice Route to the Muziris Heritage Project, focusing on the ancient port town of Kodungalloor and nearby areas in Central Kerala, which were the epicentre of India's spice trade with West Asia and Europe.

In addition to Muziris, Thiruvananthapuram, Anchuthengu, Kollam, Alappuzha, Kochi, Ponnani, Panthalayani, Parapanangadi, Beypore, Kozhikode, Thalassery, Kannur, and Bekal will be covered.

Of the 70 spices grown globally, 47 are cultivated in India according to the International Organisation for Standardisation. India is still considered the “Home of Spices” because of the quality of the commodity the country, especially Kerala, produces. Spices are strewn all over Kerala's history. Alappuzha and Idukki corner the top slots and over 80 per cent of tourists arriving in the two districts stay in spice plantations.

The conference would look at how stakeholders could leverage from the Silk Road's positioning and help rebuild this travel route, sources said.

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