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Participatory rural tourism mooted

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Special Correspondent

KARAIKUDI: The immense tourism potential of Chettinad, which has been receiving a large number of foreign tourists, will be utilised to boost the economy of local people through a number of community based initiatives, according to the Collector, Pankaj Kumar Bansal.

Creating employment opportunities through tourism projects, creating market linkages for artisans of Chettinad region, training for artisans to improve the skill, promoting rural livelihood, marketing Chettinad cuisine through innovative methods and others were among the plans.

As a first step towards exploring the avenues for income generation of local people and to sustain the efforts of popularising the pride of Chettinad, the district administration with the support of Dhan Foundation firmed up a community managed rural tourism concept at a function held at Pallathur near here on Saturday.

The aim was that local people should be benefited by marketing all Chettinad related items such as saris, famous Athangudi tiles, handicrafts, wood carving works and others, the Collector added.

K.P. Bharathi, Programme Leader, Tourism initiative, Dhan Foundation, said the Government of India had recognised Chettinad as among the 36 places of responsible tourism initiative. While the Government had been creating infrastructure, including roads in and around Chettinad at a cost of Rs.50 lakh, the Dhan Foundation, with the financial support of the United National Development Programme, had taken several steps to make the local community gain from the tourism project.

Ten villages and towns of Chettinad had been identified for their various specialties. While Kanadukathan and Pallathur were notified for architecture, Kottaiyur and Karaikudi were noted as famous for kandangi saris and wood carving.

Brass metal work was famous in Ariyakudi. Silver ornament and stone carving had earned a name for Kandanur and Sakkottai respectively.

Handmade tiles were really attracting tourists at Athankudi.

The focus would be to make the tourists visit all networking areas and villages to market the area wise products of Chettinad.

He added that 31 activity groups such as wood carving, tile making, sari weaving, egg plastering and others had been formed.

Similarly, 74 self-help groups were promoted to make use of the advantages of Chettinad tourism.

A model package tour was arranged for Madurai based travel agents so as to send their guests to the project site one by one.

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