Thiruvananthapuram: A best-kept secret of Kerala for long, the heritage-rich coastal town of Bekal in Kasaragod has embarked on a course to woo tourists with the state government launching plans to tap the huge tourism potential of the region.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who last week inaugurated the "know Bekal" campaign in Kasaragod district, has pledged to put the six districts of Malabar on the forefront of Kerala’s tourism growth.
The plans include making Bekal the second biggest backwater tourism hotspot after Alappuzha, building an airstrip and revamping the rail station to improve connectivity and creating facilities for adventure activities including water sports and aero sports.
Besides, it was planned to speed up infrastructure projects like the Kannur international airport and expansion of the Kozhikode airport.
According to Tourism department officials, Bekal has the advantage of being able to support three of the most promising sectors for the Kerala economy - tourism, coastal transport and national waterways.
While doing this, great care would be taken to ensure that the pristine environment around that area would not be harmed and bring much of the benefits of tourism to the local community based on the concept of Responsible Tourism, state Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar said.
"As a destination Bekal is largely unexplored and pristine. We are in a position to employ best tourism practices and, socially and ecologically sustainable means while charting its future growth," he said.
Bekal Resorts Development Corporation Ltd (BRDC), tasked with the implementation of the project, has acquired and developed more than 230 acres of land for setting up resorts.
Two resorts have already been commissioned and beach camping facility developed by Kerala Tourism Development Corporation is nearing completion at Bekal Beach Park.
A cultural centre, a bio-organic farm and a tourism incubation centre in the area are also on the anvil. There are plans to connect Bekal to Kerala`s other destinations through sea plane service.
Kerala’s Tourism Department is targeting an increase in tourist inflows to Bekal from 3.2 lakhs at present to six lakhs by 2015.