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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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Comprehensive tourism policy on the anvil

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 30. The Government proposes to draw up a comprehensive policy for promotion of tourism in the State, the Minister for Tourism and Fisheries, Prof. K.V. Thomas, said here today.

Addressing a `Meet-the-Press' programme organised by the Press Club, the Minister said that regulations and restrictions would be imposed on operation of Ayurveda centres and house boats. However, no licensing was contemplated. Discussions to finalise the policy were under way.

Prof. Thomas said the Government would try to take advantage of the food, temples and forests to attract tourists to the State. Tourism development would never be linked to wine and women, he said.

The Tourism Department, however, was of the view that canned toddy could be marketed as a local drink as was being done in Sri Lanka. The Government was yet to take a decision on the matter.

He said there was no proposal to hive off units under the State Tourism Development Corporation. The nomination of the senior Congress leader, Mr. K. Karunakaran's daughter, Ms. Padmaja Venugopal, as chairman of the Corporation was something that was to be decided by the UDF and the Chief Minister, Mr. A.K. Antony.

He said the Government proposed to enter into an understanding with Indian Airlines on bringing tourists to Kerala. Lower air fares would be possible as part of this package.

He said that the opposition by Air-India stood in the way of foreign airlines operating direct flights to Kerala. The State was pressing for an open air policy in this respect as tourists found it expensive to reach Kerala for want of direct flights.

He said regulation of Ayurveda was planned as there was suspicion that some people were misusing it. Several hotels, he added, were found to display boards offering ayurvedic massage.

Imposing of restrictions on house boats was being considered as there was unhealthy competition in Alappuzha.

He said the Government would not spend heavily on the promotional programme planned in Delhi from August 1 to 18.

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