• Karnataka Tourism to play host to the First G20 Energy Transition Working Group Meet in Bengaluru

    Karnataka Tourism as part of its initiative has laid out the red carpet to international delegates from over 35 countries attending the Bengaluru leg of the G20 Summit Meet. The visit of international delegates to Karnataka reinforces 'Brand Karnataka' and helps to reinforce the 'One State, Many World' tagline of the tourism department. 

    All the arrangements are made under the direction of Hon’ble Chief Minister. Sri BasavarajBommai, Chief minister of Karnataka, and guidance of Smt. Vandita Sharma, IAS, Chief Secretary to Government & Sri Kapil Mohan, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism.

    The first G20 Energy Transition Working Group (ETWG) meeting under India's presidency will be held in Bengaluru from 5 – 7 February 2023. The meeting will have over 150 participants including G20 member countries, nine special invitee guest countries - Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Spain.

    In addition, leading international organisations including The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Energy Agency (IEA) will be part of the meeting, the statement read.

    Senior government officials from the ministries concerned will also participate in the ETWG meeting for which Karnataka is extending all its support and coordination. The first ETWG meeting will focus on areas like energy transition through addressing technology gaps, low-cost financing for energy transition, energy security and diversified supply chains, energy efficiency, industrial low carbon transitions and responsible consumption, fuels for future and universal access to clean and affordable energy. There will also be a high-level international seminar on 'Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS)'.

    Karnataka is hosting 14 G20 meetings (11 in Bengaluru, 2 in Hampi, and 1 in Mysuru). This is the highest after Delhi-NCR and the State is honoured to be given this opportunity. During the meetings and the stay of the delegates, we will be showcasing the State’s many offerings such as spikes, coffee, silk, handicrafts, handlooms etc. Excursion trips are planned within Bengaluru city as 

    well as for Nandi Hills, BhogaNandishwara Temple, Mysuru, and Hampi. We would like to encourage, the G20 Secretariat to also showcase the Golden Chariot, South India’s only luxury train.

    Being the nodal department managing this prestigious event, Karnataka Tourism sees this as a prestigious and landmark occasion to showcase the best of what the state has to offer to a global and well-travelled audience.

    Karnataka is taking every step necessary to ensure the successful conduct of the G20 meetings, including venue management, accommodation arrangements, security, transportation, cultural programs, and more. The state will also be providing gifts and souvenirs such as silk scarves, silk ties, spices & coffee of Karnataka to the delegates during their stay in Karnataka.

    To facilitate the smooth operations of the event, Nodal officers have been appointed for each vertical under the Chief Secretary with all concerned authorities such as Tourism, Kannada & Culture, Police, State Intelligence, Traffic, DPAR, BBMP, BIAL, and respective DCs. The department has ensured all arrangements have been put in place, with our representatives having regular interactions with the various concerned departments such as Dept. of Economic Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Council for Cultural Research (ICCR) and all concerned G20 coordinators to ensure G20 meetings in Karnataka are world-class and memorable.

    Speaking on occasion of the announcement, Mr. Kapil Mohan, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism Department said "It is an honour to the state of Karnataka to host the delegates of the first G20 Energy Transition Working Group (ETWG) meeting under India's presidency. Karnataka Tourism will be showcasing the state's rich heritage and culture to the visiting delegates."

    We have planned Live Performances of 30-45 minutes for each evening of G20 meetings through an eclectic mix of dances, music, and a cultural exhibition showcasing the state. An excursion to the Pavagada Solar Park is also planned during the delegate's visit to Bengaluru. Apart from this a visit to Infosys Crescent Green Campus has also been scheduled.

    Dr. V Ram Prasath Manohar, IAS, Director, Tourism Department added “It is an opportunity for Karnataka Tourism and its stakeholders to showcase the best of Karnataka to this prestigious delegation and will help reinforce ‘Brand Karnataka’ as a destination of World-class monuments and heritage, its rich culture and warm hospitality!”

    A Karnataka pavilion showcasing Karnataka’s products – silk, coffee, handicrafts, and tourism is also planned at the venue. The event will also display the ‘One District, One Product’ offerings of Karnataka.

  • Budding writers should take risk to tell best tales Irish author Colum McCann

    Young writers must take risk and dare various things including embarrassment and sentiment to try and tell the possible stories they can, says Irish author Mr Colum McCann. Noting that writers are constantly inventing themselves as long as they are daring to do something new, Mr McCann said young writers should be prepared to rise from failures and continue their creative pursuits. In a conversation on “Empathy in Writing, Seeing Both Sides” with Ms Pooja Nair atthe Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL 2023) here on Friday,Mr McCann, who is residing in New York, said budding writers must write what they don’t know even as people would say that they should write what they know. 

    “Logically and philosophically the only thing you can write is what you actually know. If you write towards what you want to know, you discover new things. So, you are accessing different parts of yourself like an empathetic leap even into yourself,” he said.  Mr McCann said empathy is the ability to live into somebody else’s shoes. “Accessing a part of your own soul that has a kinship with the soul of someone else. It sounds like an act of kindness onto yourself.” Mr McCann said his seventh novel ‘Apeirogon’ (2020) is based on real life incidents during his tour to Israel and West Bank along with a group of artists, including musicians, writers and activists six years ago. The book recounts the lives of Israeli graphic designer Rami Elhanan and Palestinian scholar BassamAramin.”

    Recalling the incident, he said “On the edge of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, I saw two men sitting on a long wooden table there. They lost their daughters in separate incidents.  I was in tears after listening to their stories.” Mr McCann said after going back to New York, he was haunted by the story. “Writers write towards their obsessions and hence I wrote this book,” he added.  MBIFL 2023, (also known as ‘Ka’ in Malayalam), featuresan impressive line-up of Nobel and Booker Prize winners and Jnanpith awardees, among over 400 eminent names in creative fields. 

  • Kerala State extends a hand to tourism in the 2023 Budget

    The Hon’ble Minister for Finance in Kerala KN Balagopalon Friday presented the state budget in the state assembly’s budget session. The minister said that Kerala has bravely overcome the covid challenges and has returned to the path of prosperity and growth. At a time when Kerala is facing a severe financial crunch, the Finance Minister presented the second full budget of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government. The key aspect of the Budget lay in how the minister proposed to decelerate the crisis and turn around the finances. Moreover, the minister, through the budget, has highlighted the importance of tourism.

    Key Announcements related to Tourism
    Rs.362.15crores allotted for the tourism sector.
    Rs.19.30 crores allotted for Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies, State Institute of Hospitality Management, and Food Crafts Institute.
    Rs.81 crores allotted for the promotion of domestic tourism.
    Rs.2 crores have been allotted for Kochi Biennale. Rs.9.5 crores have been allotted for promoting responsible tourism projects, Rs.12 crores for the Champions boat league, Rs.7 crores for Kerala Travel Mart and Rs.8 crores have been allotted for festivals, and cultural programs including Thrissur Pooram.
    Rs.10 crores have been allotted for subsidies regarding electricity in the Tourism sector, Rs.3.70 crores for subsidies in caravan tourism projects and Rs.3 crores allotted for the continuation of the Revolving Fund scheme.
    Rs.135.65 crores have been allotted for providing basic development and facilities in the major tourist destinations.
    Rs.10 crores have been allotted to Kappad Historical Museum which has the potential for becoming a major tourist spot.
    Rs.10 crores have been allotted to build a museum and an oceanarium in the district of Kollam which would provide a major boost to the tourism sector.
    Rs.22 crores have been allotted for redeveloping guest houses, stays for travellers and Kerala houses.
    Rs.17 crores have been allotted for Heritage and Spice Route projects including Muziris, Alappuzha and Thalasseri heritage projects. 

    Conservation and eco-tourism projects
    The budget allocated Rs.26 crores for forest conservation projects and Rs.7 crores for eco-tourism projects. Moreover, Rs.1 crore has been allocated for Elephant Rehabilitation Centre in Kottoor, Thiruvananthapuram; Rs.5.2 crores for Project Elephant, Rs.4.76 crore for 16 wildlife sanctuaries. Puthoor zoological part in Thrissur will get Rs.6 crores.
    Rs.10 crores allocated for implementing work from the home model in the tourism sector.

    Other Announcements related to Tourism
    Rs. 5 crores set aside for the development of the marina at Alappuzha and Rs. 40.5 crores allotted for developing infrastructure facilities at the minor ports.
    Rs.  60,000 crores for the Vizhinjam port area development scheme. Finance Minister proposes land pooling for Vizhinjam port area development. He encourages citizens to hand over land to the government for infrastructural development with reciprocal economic benefits. He also proposes PPP models for Vizhinjam development. The government sets apart Rs. 60,000 for the ambitious port area development scheme, with Rs 1000 crore parcelled out via KIFFB to develop an industrial corridor.
    An extensive industrial and commercial centre will be developed in the area around Vizhinjam port
    International trade venue for Thiruvananthapuram. A permanent venue for an international trade mela will be set up in Thiruvananthapuram.
    Idukki, Wayanad, and Kasargod development projects get Rs. 75 crores each
    Rs. 17 crores for the modernization of Government-run cinema theatres. The Minister further announced Rs. 182.14 crores for the culture sector.
    The AKG museum is to be set up in Kannur at a cost of Rs. 6 crores. The minister also announced that the Vaikkom Satyagraha Centenary will be celebrated this year, and Rs. 17 crores has been allocated for the modernisation of Government-run cinema theatres and the launching of the Kerala State Film Development Corporation’s OTT platform.

  • Tourism Sector gets focus as the Union Budget 2023 is announced

    UNION BUDGET 2023
    The Union Budget for the year 2023 was declared by the Hon’ble Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs of India Smt. Nirmala Sitharam. The budget presented a vision for Amrit Kaal- a blueprint for an empowered and inclusive economy. The visions for Amrit Kaal include opportunities for citizens with a focus on the youth, growth and job creation, creating a strong and stable macro-economic environment.Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, through the budget, has highlighted the importance of domestic tourism and has focused on the tourism sector in a detailed way.

    Key announcements in Travel and Tourism 
    50 tourist destinations will be selected through challenge mode to be developed as a whole package for domestic and international tourism.
    Initiatives will be taken to set up tourism at border villages.
    The government will set up a ‘Unity Mall’ where state where prominent centres will mark tourist spots, monuments and spaces for visitors to boost the sector.States will be encouraged to set up a ‘Unity Mall’ in the State capital or the most popular tourist destination in the state.
    Promote the ‘One District, One product’ scheme that will encourage GI products and other handicraft products of the states.
    50 additional airports, helipads, water aero drones, and advanced landing grounds will be revived to improve regional air connectivity

    Other Announcements related to tourism include
    Bharat Shared Repository for Inscriptions will be set up in Digital Epigraphy Museum with the digitisation of one Lakh Ancient Inscriptions in the First stage 
    PM Vishwa Karma Kaushal Samman, a package of assistance for traditional artisans and craftspeople has been conceptualized, to improvethe quality, scale and reach of their products
    Govt to spend Rs 10,000 crore per year for urban infra development fund
    "50 destinations will be selected in challenge mode. Every destination would be developed as a complete package under the 'Dekho Apna Desh' initiative'
    Sector-specific skilling and entrepreneurship development to be dovetailed to achieve objectives of the 'Dekho Apna Desh' initiative.
    Govt proposes to increase the benefit of carry forward of losses for start-ups to 10 years
    Micro-enterprises with a turnover of up to Rs 2cr, and professionals with a turnover of 50 lakhs can avail the benefit of presumptive taxation
    To enhance the limit to Rs 3 crore& 75 lakhs respectively for MSMEs professionals whose cash receipts are no more than 5%
    TCS for overseas tour program increased to 20%
    For foreign remittances for other purposes under LRS and purchase of overseas tour programs, it is proposed to increase the rates of TCS from 5 per cent to 20 per cent. This will impact outbound tourism significantly
    Eco-tourism opportunities:Govt will promote its unique conservation values through Amrit Dharohar, a scheme that will be implemented over the next 3 years to encourage optimal use of wetlands, enhance bio-diversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities & income generation.

  • RP Group offers Rs. 1 Crore Scholarship on the Golden Anniversary of Leela Kovalam

    The Leela Raviz Hotel at Kovalam is turning fifty. The hotel, which completed 50 years of serving guests and tourists the world around, announced higher education scholarships for a total of Rs. 1 crore (10 million) for students on the occasion of its year-long golden Jubilee celebrations.

    Announcing the scheme, Dr. Ravi Pillai, chairman of the RP Group, said “Students from the Kovalam region would be given adequate priority in the scholarship scheme.”

    “A scholarship of Rs.10,000 each will be distributed to thousand students. A total of 70% of this scholarship programme is reserved for girl students. The year-long programme will also tap the tourism potential of Kovalam at the international, national, and local levels” said Mr. Pillai.

    Hotel Ashoka, which started operations under the Central Tourism department in 1972, stands tall as Leela Raviz Kovalam today. The capital's first oceanfront five-star hotel played a major role in making Kovalam an important tourist destination in the world. Ashoka Hotel Kovalam was privatised by the then Central government in 2002. First, the M Far Group and then the Leela Group acquired ownership of the hotel and subsequently the RP Group.Owner and RP Group Chairman Ravi Pillai has announced a year-long celebration program to mark the hotel's golden jubilee.

    As part of the celebrations, RP Group has announced scholarships for one thousand students for a total of Rs 1 crore scholarship for higher studies. First preference will be given to students from Kovalam. The scholarship is Rs 10000 each for 1000 candidates. 

    Dr. Ravi Pillai also stated that Kovalam will implement projects that will give a new dimension to Kerala's tourism industry, which is gearing up for a comeback after Covid.
     

  • Cochin to host the 4th Edition of the International Conference on Tourism Technology 2023

    The Association of Tourism Trade Organisations, India (ATTOI) announced the 4th edition of the International Conference on Tourism Technology (ICTT) at the Gokulam Convention centre at Cochin on 24th February with the support of Kerala Tourism. 

    Anish Kumar P.K, convenor of ICTT, stated that “65% of Indian Travellers are booking their trips on digital platforms and with online tour operators after the pandemic. To move with this new trend, Hotels and Tour Operators are increasing their online visibility through digital channels to increase their revenue. Tourism organisations are creating online travel stories on YouTube, and Instagram reels which are visually engaging content to bring traffic to optimised websites to get business. This year, we have 5 trending digital marketing topics which will enable tourism organisations to scale up online sales.”

    ATTOI President Sri C S Vinod said that the International Conference on Tourism Technology (ICTT2023) provides a valuable platform for industry professionals and experts in India to come together to share knowledge, network and discuss the latest trends and developments in the field of tourism online marketing. These conferences can be particularly important for the tourism industry as technology plays an increasingly critical role in how people plan, book, and experience travel. He added that the conference can provide opportunities to learn about new technologies and how they can be applied to improve the tourism experience, as well as opportunities to collaborate and form partnerships. Additionally, the conferences can help to keep the industry updated on the latest regulations, standards and best practices related to the use of technology in tourism. Overall, attending or participating in international conferences on tourism technology can be a valuable investment for any professional or organization working in the tourism industry.

    The ICTT 2023 will include the topics “Tips for creating viral Instagram reels” by Mr. Sorav Jain, “How to build your online visibility through the most effective SEO” by Ms. Dipti Parmar, “How to create effective online advertising” by Dr. Seema Gupta and “Importance of storytelling” by Mr. Sachin Bansal.

  • A Proper Waste Management System is Indispensable Dr. Ravi Pillai

    Cleanliness is key to public health. We need to teach our children about cleanliness and how to be clean from a young age. Only if the children are taught about this vital aspect from the pre-primary level can they bring about a change in society. The change needs to start from the homes and only then can society change. For that, we need to work on teaching the younger generation.

    A foreign tourist is someone who wants the place that they visit to be clean and neat. Hygiene is a very important aspect that they look for in a place which they are planning to visit.

    Toilets and restrooms are a must for the traveller or a tourist since they are an integral part of their daily necessities. It is really hard for a traveller to get a good and clean public restroom during their journey. The government and the private sector can make a deal to provide the public with good and better restrooms. If the cities and villages undergo such a development, there will undoubtedly be changes as a whole for the people and the society. Proper sanitation and restrooms are an integral part of the tourism industry. If the government joins hands with the private sector for this purpose, a nominal fee can be charged and this will act as a source of income and a tourist attraction.

    Proper waste management and disposal are one of the most important aspects of the development of the state. Our lakes and ponds are filled with waste. There needs to be an urgent change on this front. The government can set up cleaning plants and charge a small usage fee. The media can play a big role in producing the correct narratives in this regard. They can increase the public awareness and arrange healthy discussions and debates on waste disposal systems.

    The central and the state governments should make sure that the state is well connected via air, road and water. It is vital for there to be robust and well planned air, road and sea connectivity so that more and more tourists can visit the country.  The road development is going on smoothly and good roads will be in place sooner or later. The state needs to develop more to bring in more tourists and strengthen the current situation of the tourism sector.

  • Russian team in Thiruvananthapuram seeking the essence of Ayurvedic treatment

    A Russian team of 40 people arrived in Thiruvananthapuram 
    A group of 40 people from Russia arrived in the capital to understand the importance of Ayurvedic tourism in Kerala and to know more about it to give more publicity to the treatment. Ayurvedic Yoga and Wellness Association (AYWA) in association with the Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce and Industries organized the conclave and welcomed the Russian group to the capital city.

    Later in the evening, the team also participated in the Indo-Russian Ayurveda Conclave organized by Ayurveda and Wellness at Indimasi Healing and Wellness Village, Vattappara. For 14 days they will attend classes on various Ayurvedic treatments and the Russian team will also be trained in experimental treatment methods.

    Sri Ratheesh Nair (Director -Thiruvananthapuram Russian House) inaugurated the conclave which was presided over by Sri Prasad Manjali (President - Ayurveda Yoga and Wellness Association). Sri Yogi Sivan (Chairman - Indimasi Healing and Wellness Village) delivered the keynote address in the presence of Smt Inisa (Managing Director- Om Tourism), Sri PV Manu (Secretary -ATTOI), Sri Siji Nair (Treasurer-AWAY), Sri Mohamed Mubarak (Chief Physician – Indimasi Healing and Wellness Village), Sri Chacko Anjalimootil (Director - Indimasi Healing and Wellness Village) and others.

  • National Tourism Day Celebrations to be held at Trivandrum

    National Tourism Day is celebrated to spread awareness about the importance of the tourism sector and the socio-political, economic and cultural value of the same to both the national and international communities. National Tourism Day is celebrated on January 25th every year. Along with strengthening the relationship between a country and its society, tourism also plays a very important role in strengthening the internal affairs and economic situation of the country.
    The National Tourism Day celebrations are being organized by Metro Mart jointly with the Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the support of South India Hotels and Restaurant Association, Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry, and Citrine Hospitality. The celebrations and seminar will be held on January 25, 06.00 PM.

    Program Schedule
    Welcome address        Sri Kottukal Krishnakumar
                                        General Secretary, Kerala Tourism Development Association
    Presidential address    Sri S.N. Raghuchandran Nair
                                        President – Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce and Industries
                                       General Convenor – KTDA
    Inauguration                Sri Ramesh Chennithala M.L.A
    Topic Presentation and Special Address     Sri K Jayakumar IAS
                                                                         Director- IMG, Govt. of Kerala
    “The Change in Tourism according to the Changing Tourist Habits”
    Release of Metro Expedition National Tourism Day Edition          Adv. V Joy M.L.A
    Global Travel Market Website Launch     Sri M.V. Shreyams Kumar
                                                                     Managing Director, Mathrubhumi
    National Tourism Day Message        Sri K Rajshekhar
                                                             Principal- IHMCT Kovalam
    Release of Global Travel Market Brochure     Sri E M Najeeb
                                                                           President- Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry
                                                                           Trustee- KTDA
    Release of Trivandrum Handbook edition     Sri Baby Mathew Somatheeram
                                                                          President- Kerala Travel Mart Society
                                                                          Chairman- KTDA
    Release of Executive Knowledge Lines G20 edition        Sri K K Radhakrishnan
                                                                                             President- Classified Hotels and Restaurants Association
                                                                                             Working Chairman- KTDA
    Metro Mart Website Launch (www.metromartdaily.com)      Sri Suresh M Pillai
                                                                                                 Vice President- South India Hotels and Restaurant Association
                                                                                                 Trustee – KTDA
    Tourism Development Proposal Presentation     Sri M R Narayanan
                                                                                Vice President – South Kerala Hoteliers Forum
                                                                                Trustee- KTDA
                                                                                Sri. Prasad Manjali
                                                                                CEO- Citrine Hospitalities
                                                                               Joint Secretary- KTDA
    ICTT 2023 Announcement          Sri P K Anish Kumar
                                                        Association of Tourism and Trade Organization of India
    In the presence of                      Sri D Chandrasenan Nair
                                                       Trustee- KTDA
                                                       Sri Sudheesh Kumar
                                                       President – SKHF
    Vote of Thanks                           Sri Siji Nair, Managing Director- Metro Mart
                                                      Treasurer- KTDA 

     

  • KAUDIA ESTATE THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL FANTASY

    Jaw-dropping private villas against the backdrop of the magnificent Himalayas

    As the pandemic has begun to wind down across the worldmany people are looking for an escape from primary residences, which start to feel all toofamiliar after long periods of lockdowns. Luxurious private villas available to rent as short-term second home are becoming a hot favourite amongst the discerning and affluent vacation-goers. Star hotels are nice. But a luxurious home all to oneself is even better and fast emerging as the hottest luxury travel trend for 2023. Kaudia Estate located within a dense pine forest in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas with unobstructed, stunning views of the mighty peaks across a 180-degree horizon is the ultimate travel fantasy: to call home, if only for sometime, a to-die-for house in a spectacular setting.

    A comfortable, three-hour drive from the Dehradun airport, this property is an easy to approach, quiet, undiscovered, private estate that givesfull freedom to create an intensely personal holiday experience. One can customise the stay for complete privacy and peace in a postcard-from-paradise setting. Or turn it into an adventure and activity filled getaway with unique treks, picnics and hikes up the hills. These gorgeous villas, set against snow-capped mountains in the far distance can be the perfect romantic getaway, a joyous family vacation setting, or a celebrity hideout with breakfast on the terrace, sundowners on the patios and barbeque under the stars! There are three identical villas, with charming and distinctive interiors. Each villa comes quipped with three en-suite bedrooms, a lounge, a dining area, living area and private lawns. 

    Each time of the year is a unique opportunity to experience life in the mountains.Winter is the time to enjoy the crisp, cold air and tuck into the comfort of the warm living spaces with crackling fires in a deep-set fireplace. A perfect environment for cosy conversations with friends and family, making indelible memories: conversations, playing board games, reading, stargazing and planning hot meal menus home-cooked by the ever smilingstaff.  As winter thickens some deep snowfall can come in as a treat, allowing for stomping around in ankle length boots, snowball fights, and building a snowman. “Kaudia Estate originated as a dream for a super luxury holiday home in the hills for three friends during a golf game. My friends and I spent a couple of years traveling in the hills to identify a location that was nestled in the forest with a clear view of the majestic Himalayan range and then several more years to build the cottages and the supporting infrastructure. Now, in addition to its secluded location and majestic views, the property provides peace and serenity that immerses the guests in a lap of luxury," shares Arvind Srivastava, the Co-founder. Says AvnishDimri, General Manager - Kaudia Estate "Food is a gastronomical experience at Kaudia with authentic Pahari cuisine as a specialty. We take pride in our curation of an extensive and customizable menu with a 'farm to table" approach. We source organic produce from our vegetable garden as well as local farms and markets around the Estate".

    Kaudia Estate places a stronger emphasis on wellness, independence, and privacy.

Budding writers should take risk to tell best tales Irish author Colum McCann

Young writers must take risk and dare various things including embarrassment and sentiment to try and tell the possible stories they can, says Irish author Mr Colum McCann. Noting that writers are constantly inventing themselves as long as they are daring to do something new, Mr McCann said young writers should be prepared to rise from failures and continue their creative pursuits. In a conversation on “Empathy in Writing, Seeing Both Sides” with Ms Pooja Nair atthe Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL 2023) here on Friday,Mr McCann, who is residing in New York, said budding writers must write what they don’t know even as people would say that they should write what they know. 

“Logically and philosophically the only thing you can write is what you actually know. If you write towards what you want to know, you discover new things. So, you are accessing different parts of yourself like an empathetic leap even into yourself,” he said.  Mr McCann said empathy is the ability to live into somebody else’s shoes. “Accessing a part of your own soul that has a kinship with the soul of someone else. It sounds like an act of kindness onto yourself.” Mr McCann said his seventh novel ‘Apeirogon’ (2020) is based on real life incidents during his tour to Israel and West Bank along with a group of artists, including musicians, writers and activists six years ago. The book recounts the lives of Israeli graphic designer Rami Elhanan and Palestinian scholar BassamAramin.”

Recalling the incident, he said “On the edge of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, I saw two men sitting on a long wooden table there. They lost their daughters in separate incidents.  I was in tears after listening to their stories.” Mr McCann said after going back to New York, he was haunted by the story. “Writers write towards their obsessions and hence I wrote this book,” he added.  MBIFL 2023, (also known as ‘Ka’ in Malayalam), featuresan impressive line-up of Nobel and Booker Prize winners and Jnanpith awardees, among over 400 eminent names in creative fields. 

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Kerala State extends a hand to tourism in the 2023 Budget

The Hon’ble Minister for Finance in Kerala KN Balagopalon Friday presented the state budget in the state assembly’s budget session. The minister said that Kerala has bravely overcome the covid challenges and has returned to the path of prosperity and growth. At a time when Kerala is facing a severe financial crunch, the Finance Minister presented the second full budget of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government. The key aspect of the Budget lay in how the minister proposed to decelerate the crisis and turn around the finances. Moreover, the minister, through the budget, has highlighted the importance of tourism.

Key Announcements related to Tourism
Rs.362.15crores allotted for the tourism sector.
Rs.19.30 crores allotted for Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies, State Institute of Hospitality Management, and Food Crafts Institute.
Rs.81 crores allotted for the promotion of domestic tourism.
Rs.2 crores have been allotted for Kochi Biennale. Rs.9.5 crores have been allotted for promoting responsible tourism projects, Rs.12 crores for the Champions boat league, Rs.7 crores for Kerala Travel Mart and Rs.8 crores have been allotted for festivals, and cultural programs including Thrissur Pooram.
Rs.10 crores have been allotted for subsidies regarding electricity in the Tourism sector, Rs.3.70 crores for subsidies in caravan tourism projects and Rs.3 crores allotted for the continuation of the Revolving Fund scheme.
Rs.135.65 crores have been allotted for providing basic development and facilities in the major tourist destinations.
Rs.10 crores have been allotted to Kappad Historical Museum which has the potential for becoming a major tourist spot.
Rs.10 crores have been allotted to build a museum and an oceanarium in the district of Kollam which would provide a major boost to the tourism sector.
Rs.22 crores have been allotted for redeveloping guest houses, stays for travellers and Kerala houses.
Rs.17 crores have been allotted for Heritage and Spice Route projects including Muziris, Alappuzha and Thalasseri heritage projects. 

Conservation and eco-tourism projects
The budget allocated Rs.26 crores for forest conservation projects and Rs.7 crores for eco-tourism projects. Moreover, Rs.1 crore has been allocated for Elephant Rehabilitation Centre in Kottoor, Thiruvananthapuram; Rs.5.2 crores for Project Elephant, Rs.4.76 crore for 16 wildlife sanctuaries. Puthoor zoological part in Thrissur will get Rs.6 crores.
Rs.10 crores allocated for implementing work from the home model in the tourism sector.

Other Announcements related to Tourism
Rs. 5 crores set aside for the development of the marina at Alappuzha and Rs. 40.5 crores allotted for developing infrastructure facilities at the minor ports.
Rs.  60,000 crores for the Vizhinjam port area development scheme. Finance Minister proposes land pooling for Vizhinjam port area development. He encourages citizens to hand over land to the government for infrastructural development with reciprocal economic benefits. He also proposes PPP models for Vizhinjam development. The government sets apart Rs. 60,000 for the ambitious port area development scheme, with Rs 1000 crore parcelled out via KIFFB to develop an industrial corridor.
An extensive industrial and commercial centre will be developed in the area around Vizhinjam port
International trade venue for Thiruvananthapuram. A permanent venue for an international trade mela will be set up in Thiruvananthapuram.
Idukki, Wayanad, and Kasargod development projects get Rs. 75 crores each
Rs. 17 crores for the modernization of Government-run cinema theatres. The Minister further announced Rs. 182.14 crores for the culture sector.
The AKG museum is to be set up in Kannur at a cost of Rs. 6 crores. The minister also announced that the Vaikkom Satyagraha Centenary will be celebrated this year, and Rs. 17 crores has been allocated for the modernisation of Government-run cinema theatres and the launching of the Kerala State Film Development Corporation’s OTT platform.

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Tourism Sector gets focus as the Union Budget 2023 is announced

UNION BUDGET 2023
The Union Budget for the year 2023 was declared by the Hon’ble Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs of India Smt. Nirmala Sitharam. The budget presented a vision for Amrit Kaal- a blueprint for an empowered and inclusive economy. The visions for Amrit Kaal include opportunities for citizens with a focus on the youth, growth and job creation, creating a strong and stable macro-economic environment.Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, through the budget, has highlighted the importance of domestic tourism and has focused on the tourism sector in a detailed way.

Key announcements in Travel and Tourism 
50 tourist destinations will be selected through challenge mode to be developed as a whole package for domestic and international tourism.
Initiatives will be taken to set up tourism at border villages.
The government will set up a ‘Unity Mall’ where state where prominent centres will mark tourist spots, monuments and spaces for visitors to boost the sector.States will be encouraged to set up a ‘Unity Mall’ in the State capital or the most popular tourist destination in the state.
Promote the ‘One District, One product’ scheme that will encourage GI products and other handicraft products of the states.
50 additional airports, helipads, water aero drones, and advanced landing grounds will be revived to improve regional air connectivity

Other Announcements related to tourism include
Bharat Shared Repository for Inscriptions will be set up in Digital Epigraphy Museum with the digitisation of one Lakh Ancient Inscriptions in the First stage 
PM Vishwa Karma Kaushal Samman, a package of assistance for traditional artisans and craftspeople has been conceptualized, to improvethe quality, scale and reach of their products
Govt to spend Rs 10,000 crore per year for urban infra development fund
"50 destinations will be selected in challenge mode. Every destination would be developed as a complete package under the 'Dekho Apna Desh' initiative'
Sector-specific skilling and entrepreneurship development to be dovetailed to achieve objectives of the 'Dekho Apna Desh' initiative.
Govt proposes to increase the benefit of carry forward of losses for start-ups to 10 years
Micro-enterprises with a turnover of up to Rs 2cr, and professionals with a turnover of 50 lakhs can avail the benefit of presumptive taxation
To enhance the limit to Rs 3 crore& 75 lakhs respectively for MSMEs professionals whose cash receipts are no more than 5%
TCS for overseas tour program increased to 20%
For foreign remittances for other purposes under LRS and purchase of overseas tour programs, it is proposed to increase the rates of TCS from 5 per cent to 20 per cent. This will impact outbound tourism significantly
Eco-tourism opportunities:Govt will promote its unique conservation values through Amrit Dharohar, a scheme that will be implemented over the next 3 years to encourage optimal use of wetlands, enhance bio-diversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities & income generation.

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RP Group offers Rs. 1 Crore Scholarship on the Golden Anniversary of Leela Kovalam

The Leela Raviz Hotel at Kovalam is turning fifty. The hotel, which completed 50 years of serving guests and tourists the world around, announced higher education scholarships for a total of Rs. 1 crore (10 million) for students on the occasion of its year-long golden Jubilee celebrations.

Announcing the scheme, Dr. Ravi Pillai, chairman of the RP Group, said “Students from the Kovalam region would be given adequate priority in the scholarship scheme.”

“A scholarship of Rs.10,000 each will be distributed to thousand students. A total of 70% of this scholarship programme is reserved for girl students. The year-long programme will also tap the tourism potential of Kovalam at the international, national, and local levels” said Mr. Pillai.

Hotel Ashoka, which started operations under the Central Tourism department in 1972, stands tall as Leela Raviz Kovalam today. The capital's first oceanfront five-star hotel played a major role in making Kovalam an important tourist destination in the world. Ashoka Hotel Kovalam was privatised by the then Central government in 2002. First, the M Far Group and then the Leela Group acquired ownership of the hotel and subsequently the RP Group.Owner and RP Group Chairman Ravi Pillai has announced a year-long celebration program to mark the hotel's golden jubilee.

As part of the celebrations, RP Group has announced scholarships for one thousand students for a total of Rs 1 crore scholarship for higher studies. First preference will be given to students from Kovalam. The scholarship is Rs 10000 each for 1000 candidates. 

Dr. Ravi Pillai also stated that Kovalam will implement projects that will give a new dimension to Kerala's tourism industry, which is gearing up for a comeback after Covid.
 

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