Kozhikode: The Kerala State-run Bekal Resorts Development Corporation (BRDC) has lined up a pragmatic strategy to ensure a quantum jump in tourist inflow into North Malabar so as to tap to the hilt the region’s immense tourism potential.

This vision was the prime focus of the three-day long “SMiLE” Ambassadors Tour that hosted to facilitate a meaningful linkage between the 93 Small and Medium Industries Leveraging Experiential (SMiLE) tourism entrepreneurs dotted in the north Malabar region and the 40-odd nation’s leading tour operators who took part in the event that concluded here the other day.

BRDC has conceived the SMILE project in 2017 with a series of workshops for aspiring tourism entrepreneurs and guidance programs for capacity development, is relying on a baseline strategy and planned interventions for deploying small entrepreneurs as pillars for tourism development in a destination and facilitating marketing activities so that there is a marked increase in the inflow of tourists to the region.

BRDC so far has put into operation 50 SMILE tourism ventures managed by 93 entrepreneurs as 28% of entrepreneurs are women folk, with capacity to accommodate over 400 tourists a day in the North Malabar region.

The SMiLE project focuses mainly on creating accommodation facilities and providing experiential tourism services with the unique linguistic, cultural, historical tourism products and mythology linked to the destination.

“SMiLE’s primary target is to lure even more mid-budget foreign tourists rather than according priority to premium segment and domestic tourists” BRDC Managing Director T.K. Manzoor said. ‘The stress in the development process is on entrepreneurship and marketing’, he added.

Tour operators participate in Mangalam Kali at Banam Farm House, a SMiLE venture at Kasargod.

The emerging scenario has eventually replaced the conventional premium budget tourism infrastructure interventions.

In its bid to facilitate marketing of tourism destination and SMiLE ventures, BRDC has already released the mobile app – Virtual Tourism Guide (SMILE VTG) that could be downloaded from google play store and the facility would provide minute illustrations on nearly 40 tourist attractions and details of SMILE ventures to contact for accommodation and experiential services.

During the three-day ‘Smile Ambassadors Tour’ organized by BRDC in association with the State Tourism department along with the Association of Tourism Trade Organisations India (ATTOI), the tour operators had the rare opportunity to experience  the unique and emerging attractions like Suranga (a traditional water conservation technology), natural cave in the hilly hamlet near Parappa and West Eleri panchayat. Malabar Kalari, Mangalamkali, Alamikali, Yakshagana puppetry, and familiarized themselves with the 7-language theatre in Kasaragod district apart from facilitating meaningful and “Business to Business” interactive session involving tour operators and SMiLE entrepreneurs.

On the last leg of the event, the tour operators had the opportunity to have a meaningful interactive session with the top office-bearers of the North Malabar Chamber of Commerce (NMCC) in Kannur and the Kannur International Airport with the sole intention to evolve viable strategies to turn the region as one of the most sought after global tourism destinations.

By Manoj

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