And for a Friday after the World Tourism day, holidaying at the most scenic Coonoor in Nilgiris, some thoughts..… some musings…..
September 27 was declared by UNWTO as the World Tourism Day, the theme being “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”, fostering awareness of tourism’s social, cultural and economic values. With a global economy just about recovering from the pandemic, tourism industry provides jobs and livelihood to millions across the country, particularly the poorer and most vulnerable from the trading and hospitality sectors. It was rather paradoxical that Kerala Tourism, advertised as “Gods Own Country” chose to observe a “Bandh” on World Tourism day – a sad reflection of the Commies’ indifference to Business and Economic growth.
The drive to Nilgiris, called the Blue Hills, was strikingly beautiful. Coonoor and Ooty are the two major municipalities in Nilgiris district, an oasis of biodiversity, flora and fauna, lush green Tea plantations and abundant forest cover. What impressed me the most was the outstanding and remarkable achievements of Ms. Divya Innocent, I.A.S., the honest and dynamic District Collector, who has vowed her mission to protect the fragile and unique Nilgiris biosphere, home to PVTC (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) as well as protection of the Mettupalayam Elephant Corridor. Imagine a district of 7.5 lakhs native population receiving more than 50 lakhs tourists annually, needed a Collector who believes in Sustainability and a fine balance of Economy, Ecology and Social welfare. She ran campaigns like SBM (Sweep Blue Mountain) – every week every Govt employee under her supervision participates with locals in keeping the place spotlessly clean. No plastics at all, completely banned. Every vehicle is checked at entry points and all plastic bottles thrown out. Such is her huge impact in saving the environment and making Nilgiris an Organic District. The Supreme Court has ruled that she cannot be presently transferred out – the usual tricks of politicians and land mafia. My salutations to Collector Divya and pray every District in the country gets one like her.
Hopefully, the threat of the third wave is slowly receding with increased vaccinations and alert citizens. Let us all support tourism the responsible way, the full covid-precautions way, the SEEGOS way.