Staff Reporter

It will help promote tourism in an integrated fashion

Destinations with geographical proximity to be identified

PUDUCHERRY: A Confederation Indian Industry initiative has brought the tourism departments of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry on a joint platform to create a southern tourism grid.

After deliberations by the Tourism Secretaries of the respective States at a CII tourism colloquium here on Saturday, a joint declaration was signed to form the grid so as to promote tourism in an integrated fashion by sharing common strengths and leveraging distinct capabilities.

The joint declaration aims to exchange information related to tourism and allied activities and to provide seamless travel and hospitality experience. This would enable tourists to discover the whole of South India according to their choice.

They agreed to promote integrated tourism circuits by identifying and developing destinations having geographical proximity.

It was also agreed to take necessary steps at government level to improve connectivity through all modes of transport and to strengthen the connectivity of the capital cities of the States and the Union Territory with international locations.

The States and the UT would share network of booking offices, marketing agents and other agencies involved in reservation.

The joint declaration promises to actively co-ordinate in developing and promoting theme-based tour programmes such as heritage and pilgrimage tourism.

They also promised to explore the possibility of developing membership or loyalty programmes for shared infrastructure, thereby enabling tourists, especially business tourists, to avail facilities owned by the various tourism boards at an attractive price.

The signatories have agreed to reduce the disparity in various State-level taxes like luxury, road tax on vehicles and entertainment tax. They would also co-operate in the area of manpower training and human resource development, including building infrastructure.

Chitra Ramachandran, Tourism Secretary, Andhra Pradesh, T. S Sridhar, Secretary (in-charge), Tourism, Tamil Nadu, Sanjay Paul, Tourism Secretary, Kerala and A. Anbarassu, Tourism Secretary, Government of Puducherry signed the joint declaration on behalf of the respective Governments.