‘Adventurous Wayanad’ to be promoted at Kerala

October 28th, 2008 - 2:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Kozhikode, Oct 28 (IANS) The waterfalls, mist covered valleys, spice plantations and wildlife sanctuaries of Wayanad district in Kerala attract nearly half a million visitors every year. Now tour operators want to promote it as a hub for adventure tourism like rock climbing and rafting.”This year we want to promote the theme ‘Adventurous Wayanad’ as the district has great potential for adventure tourism like rafting, mountaineering and rock climbing,” says K. Raveendran, spokesperson for the Malabar Tourism Organisation (MTO), an initiative by tourism entrepreneurs in north Kerala.

Located 60 km east of Kozhikode at an altitude ranging between 700 metres and 2,100 metres above the sea level on the Western Ghats, Wayanad attracts mainly domestic tourists.

The number of foreign tourists is not available with the tourism department, which says it would be around three percent of the total number of tourists.

The MTO, he said, intends to organise rock and mountain climbing programmes in the district with the help of the General Thimmaiah National Academy of Adventure in Bangalore.

The focus would be on IT professionals in nearby Bangalore who could go there for a quick week-end getaway.

M.S. Dinesh, assistant tourism information officer of the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), said the tourism department has been occassionally organising rock climbing events in the district, mainly at the request of tour operators.

Raveendran said the rafting organised in the Kabini river in June-August this year was a great success. “The event was a joint venture of the MTO and the District Tourism Promotion Council. It was a hit among tourists,” he said.

The organisers used rafts built locally with bamboos for the event.

“We are getting a good number of enquiries regarding adventure events. Almost all of these are coming from people outside Kerala,” Looka Francis, a DTPC official, told IANS.

Francis said the rafts, about three metres long and 1.25 metres wide, were made by fastening rubber dinghies with bamboo rafts.

“The section of the Kabini river where we organised rafting was rocky and wooded. The bamboo raft took most of the impact and ensured protection to the dinghies. The rafting covered 6-12 km,” he said.

DTPC secretary K.V. Biju said tourism in Wayanad faced constraints in organising trekking as most of the suitable spots were inside the forests.

“Sometimes it is difficult to get permission from the forest department for trekking,” he said.

Forest department officials said they allow tourists inside the forest only at a few places like the wildlife sanctuaries of Tholpetty and Muthanga.

“Trekking is sparingly allowed and only in locations like Chembra peak (highest peak in Wayanad at 2,100 metres),” said Radhakrishna Lal, a forest assistant wildlife warden.

Though tour operators want to promote Wayanad in a big way to increase the number of visitors, they fear the global financial crisis may affect the business next year.

“So far there has been no request for cancellation of bookings. Next season we fear a fall in the number of tourists,” said Raveendran.

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