It’s official. As reported by FE in May, Kerala has roped in German tennis legend Steffi Graf to promote the state’s Ayurveda campaign in a bid to energise its “God’s Own Country” brand. The state cabinet, which met on Wednesday, appointed the 46-year-old Graf as the brand ambassador of Kerala Ayurveda.
“The Kerala tourism department has been briefed to sign an MoU with Graf. This will seek her services to become Ayurveda brand ambassador as part of the department’s ‘Visit Kerala Scheme’,” chief minister Oommen Chandy told mediapersons after a cabinet meeting. The tourism department had held discussions and reached an agreement with the former world No. 1 tennis player last month. Kerala’s Ayurveda, an ancient system of healthcare famous for its holistic effect on body and mind, attracts large number of people from the country and abroad every year.
Graf, who had bagged 22 Grand slam single titles, retired in 1999. She married former world No, 1 in men’s tennis, Andre Agassi, in October 2001. She is the only player, male or female, to win three grand slams in a calendar year five times (1988, 1989, 1993, 1995 and 1996). Graf was ranked world No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) for a record 377 total weeks, the longest period for which any player, male or female has held the No. 1 ranking since the WTA and the Association of Tennis Professionals began issuing rankings. She won 107 singles titles, which ranks her third on the WTA’s all-time list after Martina Navratilova (167 titles) and Chris Evert (157 titles).
With the entry of Graf, Kerala hopes to rev up the German travellers’ fascination for Ayurveda treatment. Already, about one-third of Kerala’s 1 million international tourists per year are from Germany, Switzerland and the UK. Ayurvedic rejuvenation treatment, which calls for more than a week’s stay at a wellness centre, also ensures longer stay of international tourists in the host country. This is counted to rev up the multiplier effect of tourism revenues.