KERALA

Focus on eco, pilgrim tourism: Minister

KOCHI, OCT. 7. The Tourism Minister, K.C. Venugopal, has said that the Government would focus on promoting eco, rural and pilgrim tourism.

There was vast untapped potential in these areas. Promotion of rural tourism would create plenty of job opportunities. Malayatoor, Kalady, Guruvayur, etc., have immense potential for pilgrim tourism, he said here today.

International boat show

Mr Venugopal was addressing media persons in connection with the three-day India International Boat Show that will begin at the Le Meridien International Convention Centre on Friday. The Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, will inaugurate the event in the morning.

The show has been organised by Kerala Tourism, in association with India Tourism and the India Trade Promotion Organisation. The State Government has pitched in Rs 60 lakhs while the Centre's Rs 12 lakh and the exhibitors, Rs 18 lakh.

Sixty-six exhibitors will participate, occupying 95 display spaces at the show. Overseas participation had increased from 15 per cent the previous year to around 30 per cent this year. Nine thousand two hundred sq.ft. area had been booked by exhibitors, of which 7,200 sq.ft. was air-conditioned halls. Ten exhibitors will display various types of boats, inflatables, kayaks, amphibious boats and catamarans, at the adjacent marina.

Apart from international players, the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, the Sports Authority of India, Mumbai Port Trust, Pondicherry Tourism, Andaman Tourism, Kerala Police and Indian Trawlers' Association are participating in the event. Cochin Port Trust, Cochin Shipyard and Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation are supporting the event.

Media partnerships

"International media partnership agreements have been made with leading boating and leisure magazines," said Mr. Venugopal. The boat show would be made an annual event.

The Principal Secretary, Kerala Tourism, E.K. Bharat Bhushan, said that the department aimed to develop Kochi as a premier boating centre in the State.

Mr Venugopal said that the State Government would not allow private players to exploit prime tourism locales. But the private sector's contribution to promoting tourism in the State was laudable.