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Wooing tourists through mobile phones

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CULTURAL AMBASSADOR: Theyyam used as a wallpaper in a phone Photo: S. Gopakumar .
CULTURAL AMBASSADOR: Theyyam used as a wallpaper in a phone Photo: S. Gopakumar .

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

Thiruvananthapuram: After successfully wooing tourists round the globe with innovative tourism products and marketing strategies, Kerala Tourism is gearing up to promote tourist destinations using Information Technology by developing web content compatible with mobile phones. Kerala, the pioneer in using IT for tourism promotion, would be the first State in the country to develop tourism-related web content compatible with mobile phones, said a senior tourism official. The photographs and text of 160 tourist destinations in the State would be available within a week.

Ring tones of theme songs such as the lullaby Omananthinkal kidavo..., traditional and folk songs, boat race music, video clips of various destinations and wall papers of beaches, hill stations, backwaters, places of interest among other things, would soon be used to promote `God's Own Country.'

Cell phone users can SMS `ringtone,' `video' and `wall paper' to the designated six digit number (to be made public soon) and receive data or multi-media content. The users can select popular tunes and songs of their choice from the rich musical heritage of Kerala. The six-digit number would be accessible from all over the country and the user would have to pay a nominal amount of Re. 1 to Rs. 3 for the SMS.

WAP-enabled mobile phones are being viewed by Kerala Tourism as a good medium for the promotion of destination and places of interest in the State. According to data released by the Cellular Operators Association of India, the number of cell phone users stood at 7,21,22,986 in the country as in April this year.

It is assumed that at least 15 per cent of the mobile equipment is capable of being used to download websites. Moreover, around three million foreign tourists visit the country every year. A sizeable chunk of the population use latest mobile equipment with roaming facility and Internet browsing facility. With this in mind, Kerala Tourism plans to develop video clips of tourist attractions of the State for display on mobile phones. During the first year, the plan is to make available 120 video clips with durations of 30 seconds, 20 seconds and 10 seconds. The clips are being supplied solely for use on mobile phones.

Kerala has already tried the strategy of sending wallpapers of tourist destinations successfully through the website of Kerala Tourism. With the popularisation of WAP enabled mobile phones, it has now been decided to promote destinations by making available photographs that can be used as wallpaper on mobile phones. The idea is to provide 200 photographs as wallpapers so that the users will get sufficient choice.

The Working Group for Tourism, at its recent meeting in the State capital, cleared the proposal for setting up a new website (www.mobile.

keralatourism.org).

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