Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Onam festivities: Kerala ropes in tourists

Onam celebrations were officially launched on Sunday by Chief Minsiter VS Achuthanandan amidst a colourful display of the various dance forms of Kerala and spectacular fireworks.

The idea was to attract tourists, who have converged on the city, with a stunning and extravagant display of the diversity and uniqueness of Kerala's culture.

Contribution from tourism amounts to 7 per cent of the state's GDP and brings in a revenue of Rs 8,000 crore annually. It also employs over 10 lakh people.

Dazzling tourists

Against the majestic backdrop of 21 elephants, a thousand artistes performed traditional dances like Kathakali and Theyyam to the beat of the Panchavadyam.

The show was jointly organised by the tourism department and the film fraternity. It was a spectacle that truly dazzled tourists.

"Absolutely fabulous. This is our first visit to India, our first opportunity to see something as spectacular as this," said Claire Tierney, a tourist.

"It is wonderful. I have never seen anything like this before. A big spectacle. Wonderful," added Lucas Hauser, another tourist.

God's own country

Cultural festivals like these have tried to revive dying art forms like the Theyyam.

But this year, the Kerala government has sanctioned Rs 1 crore for Onam celebrations, mainly with an eye on tourist inflows.

"The World Tourism and Trade Council projects Turkey as the fastest growing tourist destination in the world, growing at 10.6 per cent," informed B Suman, Director, Kerala Tourism.

"But Kerala is doing 11.4 per cent, which is clearly higher by 0.8 per cent. But obviously, we do not fall in the same bracket since we are not a nation. The underpinning is that Kerala is the fastest growing tourist destination in the world," he added.

Onam has truly and finally arrived in Kerala!

The inauguration of the Onam Week celebrations by the chief minister amidst all the pomp and splendour is intended to showcase Kerala to the world.


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