Kerala Tourism Department is getting ready to woo more tourists during the forthcoming Onam festival through special packages and programmes under its ‘Responsible Tourism’ (RT) initiative. Titled ‘Nattinpurangalil Onam Unnam, Onasammanangal Vangam’ (Let’s have Onam feast in villages and get Onam gifts), the initiative is aimed at introducing the traditions of the festivities to foreign and domestic tourists. Talking to reporters here, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the department would provide tourists an opportunity to know Onam, its celebrations, enjoy ‘Onasadya’ (feast), watch ‘Onakkalikal’ (festival games) and take part in them.
“The programme will have Onam packages for tourists by integrating small enterprises being run by the local community and responsible tourism units,” he said. It would also give an opportunity for interested families to welcome tourists to their homes and treat them to an Onam feast, he said. About the features of the project, he said the model was designed to promote and encourage home meals, local tea shops and hotels and at the same time encourage travellers to spend on organic vegetables, khadi textiles, local produce, handicrafts and food items.
“We are launching the project on a pilot basis during this Onam season and planning to extend it in the coming days. It can provide sizeable income to tourism entrepreneurs as well as small merchants and traditional artistes,” the minister added. Tourism Secretary P Balakiran said the ‘RT’ initiative would help tourists to experience the feast and other festivities of Onam at local homes other than hotels and commercial establishments. “The packages would help foreign and domestic tourists to see and experience Kerala’s tradition and legacy,” he said. The packages – Onam Village Tours and Onam Life Experience – range from Rs 2,000 to Rs 8,000.
The tourists would be seen off with assured Onam gifts. The ‘Responsible Tourism’ project is being implemented in accordance with the government policy of ensuring income and living to natives in and around the tourism sector. The government has already set aside Rs 4.5 crore for the initial phase of the project. ‘Thiru Onam’ falls on September 4 this year.