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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 01/12/2012

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times)Kerala Tourism is gearing up to cash in on the medicinal potential of the Western Ghats even as the state government and other agencies are vehemently opposing an ecology panel report recommending many measures for conserving the mountain ranges that stretch from north Mumbai to the southern tip of the country.

The tourism department will soon launch a campaign projecting Kerala as the global hub for Ayurveda. The Western Ghats, which is one of the eight hottest biodiversity hotspots in the world, will be key to the new campaign.

The focus of the campaign being launched in the wake of inclusion of Western Ghats in the list of World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) will be the large reserve of medicinal plants growing in the mountain ranges. The Kerala Tourism's pavilion in this year's World Travel Mart (WTM) in London was themed on the Western Ghats. Its status as a world heritage site had mesmerised visitors to the WTM, according to tourism department officials.

Many feel that the department's move to project the medicinal potential of Western Ghats will help the conservation process. State Tourism Minister AP Anil Kumar said Kerala had become a flag bearer of Ayurveda because of the rich ecosystem available within the Western Ghats.

He said that the State was getting a large number of foreign and domestic tourists for Ayurveda treatment because it is a widely accepted fact that the authentic form of Ayurveda is that of Kerala.

Kerala is home to over 900 species of Ayurvedic herbs. The Western Ghats, which run through the entire state, from the hills of Wayanad in Northern Kerala to the southern Sahyadri peak, is an abundant reserve for medicinal herbs.

In fact, the 'Agasthyakoodam', a peak near Kerala's capital Trivandrum, is home to some of the rarest medicinal herbs. Even the sacred groves or 'kavu' spread across the State are treasure troves of Ayurvedic herbs.

Kerala received 9.4 million domestic visitors last year while the number of foreign tourists was 800,000. A majority of foreign tourists utilising the Ayurveda wellness programmes in Kerala were from Germany, the Middle East and Australia.

Kerala Tourism Secretary Suman Billa said Kerala was transforming itself into an Ayurveda therapy for illness besides the present pillar as a wellness treatment destination. While certain illnesses like back pain are already treated under Ayurveda, the Ayurvedic centres across the State will be offering treatment for illnesses like respiratory ailments also.


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