Staff Reporter

KOCHI: Want to spend the weekend calmly in the lap of nature? A trek along the hill ways amidst clouds with the possibility of occasional sighting of wildlife?

A new tourism programme with Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) is in the offing for high-end tourists.

And it will be promoted by an airline company as part of their corporate social responsibility.

The PTR will soon enter into a tie-up with a Bangalore-based airline company to promote the reserve as an exclusive weekend holiday destination for tourists.

According to a broad understanding reached between the two agencies, the airline will offer packages for its travellers under the banner ‘Simply Fly Periyar.” The travellers who arrive by the airlines at Madurai and Kochi will be picked up by the members of the Eco-Development Committees (EDCs) of the reserve.

The two agencies are working on a proposal to provide a link from the website of the airlines to that of the reserve. The call centres of the airline operator may also provide the travellers information about the tourist destination.

A memorandum of understanding will be signed between the two agencies later this week.

The move is aimed at attracting the tourists to the programmes developed and operated by the EDCs.

It has been found that only 15 per cent of the eco-tourism programmes designed by the EDCs are utilised by the tourists, said Padma Mahanti, Deputy Director of the Reserve.

On an average, 5 lakh tourists visit Thekkady each year and most of the travellers are reaching the reserve as part of the Thekkady-Munnar-Kumarakom circuit.

It was also found that most of the tourists stayed for just one day in Thekkady and opted for boating, visiting a spice plantation, undergoing a body massage and an elephant ride. Through the package, we hope to involve tourists more in the eco-tourism packages, Ms. Mahanti said. With the marketing of Thekkady as an exclusive destination, the EDCs will benefit economically and it will further strengthen the tiger and nature conservation activities undertaken by them, she said.