KERALA

Nodal officers to assist tourists

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

Tourism police to be made effective

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Tourism is toying with the idea of posting nodal officers in all districts to tackle the grievances of tourists and to provide timely help to them during distress by coordinating with other departments.

The attack on Swedish tourists, Jan Coaster and his wife Eva at the famed Periyar Tiger Reserve in Thekkady early this month made the tourism authorities to appoint nodal officers to help the tourists.

The nodal officers along with the proposed 24-hour helpline for tourists on the lines of highway alert and rail alert would go a long way in rendering timely help to the tourists, Director of Kerala Tourism Sanjay Kaul told The Hindu. The telephone numbers of the officers would be made public and their service would be made available round-the-clock.

In the wake of the attack on tourists, the department was of the opinion that the number of tourism police should be made more effective. It was decided to take up the matter with the Director General of Police, he said.

A feedback section would also be introduced soon in the website of Kerala Tourism so that tourists could post their suggestions and complaints. An IAS officer of 2001 batch, Mr. Kaul said Kerala was facing challenge from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttranchal to retain the number one spot. "Kovalam has touched its carrying capacity and backwaters is a bubble. We are in a transition stage and the challenge is enormous," he said.

As part of attracting more domestic tourists to the State, the department decided to organise road shows in March in the western and northern region. New media plans were being worked out.

The State should attract investments to create requisite infrastructure facilities for the tourists. Along with big investments in the hospitality sector, investment was also needed for promoting handicrafts, souvenir industry and home stays, he said.

"It will help the locals in a big way." The spurt in tourist arrivals in Wayanad was encouraging. Malabar needed to be opened up and marketed in a big way to attract tourists. The State had also to build up on monsoon tourism to make Kerala a 365-day destination.

Quality Human Resource was another area of concern and the Food Craft Institute in the State would be strengthened with the support of the Union Government.

Mr. Kaul said that steps would soon be taken to streamline the tourism information centres to render quality service to the tourists who step in.

On Responsible Tourism, Mr. Kaul said a core group headed by the Secretary, Tourism, would soon be constituted to follow up the recommendations made in the workshop held by Kerala Tourism.

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