United Nations World Tourism Organisation promises support

Kerala Tourism’s efforts to promote heritage and peace by reviving the two millennia-old Spice Route from the State to the West has received a big boost with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) evincing interest in taking it up as a mega project.

UNWTO’s Regional Director (Asia and Pacific) Xu Jing lauded the ‘Kerala model’ of tourism development at the three-day international meeting on ‘Silk Road Tourism,’ organised by the UNWTO in the north western Chinese city of Dunhuang, that concluded recently.

Kerala Tourism’s Spice Route initiative is a mega project that the UNWTO could take up, Mr. Jing said at the meet co-hosted by the China National Tourism Administration and the Chinese provincial government of Gansu.

The UNWTO initiative came following a presentation made by Secretary, Tourism, Suman Billa, on the importance of the route that linked 31 countries in Asia and Europe with India, particularly Kerala, as the major hub, at the conference.

“With the recent archaeological evidence excavated from Muziris, the major port of entry to India from the West for the ancient spice trade, we have been presented with a historic opportunity to revive the Spice Route for the modern world,” he said, referring to his speech before a select gathering of officials from UNWTO, UNESCO, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and international tourism organisations.

“By reviving the Spice Route, we will be able to respect a significant heritage shared among as many as 31 countries along the Spice Route by facilitating people from around the world to once again travel the route used by traders for over 2,000 years,” he said referring to the presentation ‘Protecting Heritage and Promoting Peace through the Spice Route initiative.’

UNWTO’s Executive Director (member relations and services) Zoltan Somogyi praised the initiatives of Kerala Tourism to revive the Spice Route. “It is a great start to reviving a 2,000 year-old-heritage.”

Both Mr. Jing and Mr. Somogyi had visited Kerala in April this year and had appreciated the authorities for the continuous efforts of Kerala Tourism in providing authentic experience to the visitors. “Both the senior officials expressed their interest in the Spice Tourism initiative and reiterated full support on behalf of the UNWTO,” Mr. Billa said, adding that the revival of the route would increase tourist arrivals from across the world.

Besides re-establishing Kerala’s maritime trade relations with the 31 countries associated with Spice Route, the project seeks to rekindle interest among the modern travellers to undertake voyages and excursions.

It will also result in the revival of cultural, historical and archaeological exchanges.

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