Kerala survived a flood and an effort to destroy the harmonious relationship among the people of the state in 2018. The state has risen to the occasion and is moving forward fast.

February 12, 2019
Emerging Kerala*

N Ramakrishnan’s report “Investors will find Kerala an ideal destination” (Business Line, February 12) has covered several aspects unique to Kerala in the state’s effort s to move faster in its development journey. The year that has gone by has awakened the people of Kerala and the state government and the awareness about the possibilities of unity as evidenced during the August floods and the harm the divisive forces can do to the reputation for communal harmony and the progressive ideology the state has nurtured for decades is evident in the responses of the Chief Minister.
Having realized the strengths like hundred percent literacy, acceptable weather around the year and reasonably good road and rail connectivity within the state and with other destinations within India and across the world (the state now has 4 major airports), it should be possible for Kerala to fast-track economic development by focusing more on activities which need less land-use. Illustratively:
(i)                          Festival Tourism: Within Kerala, there is a need to formally promote ‘Festival Tourism’. The Onam celebrations at the district and State levels, the Thrissur Pooram, the Aattukaal Pongala, Sabarimala pilgrimage, Theyyams in the Malabar area and several other Hindu/Muslim/Christian festivals give immense possibilities from tourism angle. If transport and stay arrangements improve, tourists will make it a point to integrate festivals in their travel plan.
(ii)                       Water Parks: Kerala has some artificial water parks. But we do not have a theme park of international standards. A couple of parks/entertainment areas will be useful additions.
(iii)                    Herbal Tourism: Aranmula has all the linkages and resources necessary to grow into a large modern ‘Herbal Tourism Village’. The concept could include participation of major Ayurveda entities. There should be facilities for stay and treatment for different economic classes including the Indian middle class and ‘rich’ outsiders. Development of medicinal plantations in adjacent villages is a possibility. Aranmula has the additional advantage of having two international airports within a distance of 150 km. Aranmula is just an example. Similar possibilities exist in Thrissur and Kannur districts also.
(iv)                     Academic Complex: Organizations  in the public and private sectors world over would be interested in establishing permanent residential training centres in the outskirts of cities in Kerala, if the state is able to provide infrastructure. State could examine the possibilities.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*In preparing this response, I have drawn from the chapter "Tourism: Unexploited Potential" in my 2018 book "India's Decade of Reforms"


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