Kerala Tourism has come up with an action plan to develop quality souvenirs for the promotion of the destination and to create a branded stream of souvenirs for the state. Despite emerging as a global tourist destination, Kerala has often come under flak by tourists and tour operators for the non – availability and the poor quality of souvenirs. Souvenirs should ideally be small, handy and easy for tourists to carry.
The souvenirs identified by the Tourism Department portray facets of Kerala’s history, culture, art forms, monuments and legends in the form of paintings, small models, etc. The aim of the souvenir industry is the maximum utilization of the State’s resources and craftsmanship, creation of employment opportunities for local artisans living below the poverty line and finding a good market for the products among international and domestic tourists.
To obtain a clear picture about this interesting project, We spoke to two officials of the Kerala Tourism Department, Mr.K.N.Satheesh and Mr.N.K Mohanan.
The first step in Kerala Tourism’s action plan for the souvenir project’ was to obtain a set of designs from a private consultant. The Department called for an expression of interest for manufacturing the souvenirs by placing advertisements in newspapers. Fifty six artisans from all over Kerala responded. About 112 products have been identified in the first phase. The plan is to identify 300-400 items within the next five years and put them up for sale in 10 exclusive showrooms and 50-100 franchisees all over Kerala. The Government will also be involved in providing specialized training and financial assistance to the selected artisans.
Mr Mohanan told us: All these souvenirs were made by artisans from Kozhikode, Cochin, Trivandrum and Wayanad. The artists were instructed that whatever material they used, the products should convey the message of ‘Kerala’
Of course, since the use of sandalwood and ivory are restricted, all the products were made using raw material typical to Kerala like coconut shell, terra cotta, bamboo, rose wood, mahogany, etc. There are Netturpettis of different dimensions. The Netturpetti is the ethnic jewel box of the Kerala women which was handed down from generation to generation under the matriarchal family system. The casket (Petti) was originally designed in the Nettur region of Malabar. The souvenir is a miniature replica of the classic ‘Netturpetti’. Made of rose wood and mahogany with excellent lacquer finish and intricate brass work, the netturpettis make excellent souvenirs and unique gifts. The Aranmula Kannadi. Or Valkannadi (mirrors) have brass stands and come in various sizes. Kerala’s rich mural painting tradition is brought life in the table lamp which has mural paintings on the base. Mural art is also depicted in the painted flute, writing pad and jute bags. Terra cotta has been used in building and sculpture from ancient times. An exceptional piece among the souvenirs is a terra cotta wall clock with a mural painting.
Coconut shell is a hardy material which can be machined to any shape and polished to a high gloss. It is artfully made use of in the souvenirs such as the hookah, wine cup, flower vase, cutlery, finger bowl and hair clips.
One of the most delicately crafted souvenirs is the miniature ‘Cheenavala’ or Chinese fishing net. It is a miniature working model of the actual fishing net and can make an attractive mantel piece and gift. The Beypore Uru miniature, made of teak and metal is a perfect depiction of the original cargo vessel used by the Arabs who initiated their constructed in the Beypore district of Kozhikode.
Scroll painting in a bamboo case make a perfect souvenir. One is the scroll paintings on canvas is a replica of the ‘Parvathy Chamayam’ mural in the Mattancherry Palace, fort Kochi. Other hand-painted souvenirs are the Desavasthanam and Deshavatharam on hard board, both done in the mural art style.
Souvenirs that women would find particularly fascinating are the bamboo necklaces and ear drops made of a special kind of bamboo collected from the Nilambur forest in North Kerala.
Mr. K.N. Satheesh, explained that the main intention of the Kerala souvenir project is to give local artisans a fair share of the benefits from tourism. He said that GKSF would be the ideal platform to show cases the souvenirs to a wide spectrum of customers.
“GKSF is being conducted during the tourist season and this will promote the sale of the souvenirs” he said.
“The main aim is to develop the heritage markets in the state. Moreover, our aim is to provide quality souvenirs to the tourists at reasonable rates. For instance, take the Aranmula mirror. A tourist who buys this product at a shopping festival in Dubai has no idea where it comes from and often pays a very high price for it. We can provide it to them at a much lower price here in Kerala. They can even watch the production process and purchase it from the centre at Aramula” said Mr.Satheesh. It is also planned to offer some of the products as’ scratch and win’ prizes in the GKSF
With the interest being taken by the Kerala Tourism Department to get the branded souvenirs into the market, it is hoped that the products will find their place as mementos in homes of tourists from all over the world, and also make a difference to the lives of the artisans who painstakingly crafted them.
- Kerala Tourism promotes Pollution Free Tourism
- Enhancing E-readiness to Kerala Tourism
- Hindi Website for Kerala Tourism
- Kerala Tourism ad film ‘Your Moment is Waiting’ wins award at Berlin
- Kerala Travel and Tourism Campaign – Go Kerala
- Kerala Tourism website bags PATA award
- Heli Tourism to redefine Kerala Tourism Industry
- Kerala Travel and Kerala Tourism Tips
- Kerala Tourism bagged best stand award at FITUR 2011, in Madrid, Spain
- Kerala Tourism | role of Kerala people