Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Boat Race League will evolve into a world-class tourism product, according to Minister for Tourism, Cooperation and Devaswoms Shri Kadakampally Surendran. Speaking at a press conference held today to detail the Kerala Boat Race League being lined up by the Kerala Tourism Department, he said: “The government and the Tourism Department have been taking various new measures for achieving stupendous growth in Kerala’s tourism sector. For that, it was important that we came up with new tourism products. Projects like Malabar Tourism development and Jadayu Rock Tourism Project were all part of this. Now, we have the Kerala Boat Race League, which will be a big boost for both Kerala Tourism and the snake-boat race festival.”

“The Kerala Boat Race League will evolve into a world-class tourism product and will deliver an unparalleled experience to people all over the world,” said the Minister, adding that the IPL-styled league would be organized in a manner that would provide an opportunity for tourists to capture the complete excitement of the snake-boat race.

A state-level committee will be formed with Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran as Chairman, and Finance Minister Dr T.M. Thomas Isaac as ex-officio chairman for the organization of the boat race league, and it will have MLAs of the respective constituencies as members. The committee will also include experts who have had successful experiences in organizing boat races. Besides, local committees will also be formed in all the venues where the races will be held with the respective MLAs of the constituency as chairman.

Special arrangements and facilities will be provided to foreign tourists in relation to the Kerala Boat Race League. Exhibition boat races and cultural programs will be conducted in all the venues ahead of the league matches.

The Tourism Department will also push for publicizing the event by holding promotional campaigns on a global scale to attract tourists from across the world. The Kerala Boat Race League will also be added in the Tourism Calendar. Tie-ups with broadcasters and sponsors will also be sought to ensure the complete success of the League.

The Kerala Boat Race League will include various boat races from five districts, excluding the ones that are held in relation to religious customs and traditions. “Care will be taken to conduct the matches mostly on Saturdays,” said the Minister adding that there won’t be any matches on days associated with religious customs and traditions.

The Boat Race League will begin on 2018 August 11 with the Nehru Boat Race Trophy that will be held on Alappuzha Punnamada Lake. The Nehru Trophy Boat Race will be of qualifying nature and league matches will be held on the succeeding days by including the top 9 teams from the qualifying race. The league will have a total of 12 games, and will conclude on November 1 with the Kollam President Trophy Boat Race.

The matches will be held in the following locations: Punnamada, Pulinkunnu, Kainakari, Karuvatta, Mavelikkara, and Kayamkulam in Alappuzha district; Piravom, and Poothotta in Ernakulam district; Kottappuram in Thrissur district; Thazhathangadi in Kottayam district; Kollam; and Kallada in Kollam district.

The qualifying teams will be granted a bonus amount of Rs 4 lakh. The prize money for the top three teams in each league match has been fixed at Rs 5 lakh for the winner, Rs 3 lakh for the runner-up, and Rs 1 lakh for the third spot. The top-three teams in each league match will also be allotted points, based on which the final winner will be decided at the end of the league matches. The winner in the league game will get 5 points, while the runner-up and third spot will receive 3 and 1 points each respectively.

The final winner of the league will be receiving a prize money of Rs 10 lakh. Each qualifying boat taking part in the league matches will have to participate from the heats. The qualifying teams must also make sure that each team has 75% natives in it.

The Tourism Minister also eased concerns by clarifying that the boat race league won’t be taking any shine off the usual excitement of the snake-boat race fests. “The Kerala Boat Race League won’t affect the significance of any of the snake-boat race. It’s only that the races will now be a part of the league, which will only help to increase the prominence of the individual snake-boat race fests,” he clarified.

The Minister also said that the name of the league was yet to be fixed, adding that the Kerala Boat Race League was just a temporary name for the event. “We will come up with an attractive name and logo for the league. We are also planning to conduct a competition for deciding the name of the league so that we have participation from the people even before the league kicks-off,” he said.

According to Rani George , Secretary, Department of Tourism, Govt of Kerala, “boat races and Onam are part of Kerala’s culture. Boat races are normally organised during the Onam festival season. However, these races are mostly organised by regional clubs. By bringing the boat races under the league format, each race assumes significance than ever before. Besides, in tourism terms, the Boat Race League would accord added importance to the four months that has scheduled the races. This is a significant product that Kerala Tourism now adds to its kitty. With the races spread over four months, whoever arrives in Kerala anytime during these months would get the opportunity to witness the races. This apart, the League also offers the opportunity for boats other than the chundanvallams also to be part of the exhibition races”.

Kerala Tourism Director P Balakiran added that the new tourism product will be a permanent part of the months of August, September, October and November from now on. The chundanvallams that are unique products linked to the tourism culture in Kerala will now transform themselves into most sought after addition over 13 weeks of the event, with the kick-off of the Boat Race League, he added.

By Manoj

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