Kerala gets UNESCO backing for Spice Route Project

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Trivandrum: Kerala Tourism’s ambitious plan to bring the ancient Spice Route back to life for helping modern day travellers tread the path used by traders and explorers two thousand years ago has received strong support from UNESCO.

UNESCO’s backing for the Spice Route Project initiated by the Kerala government came after two days of meetings and presentations at the UN agency’s headquarters in Paris last week. The meetings were led by India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UNESCO, Vinay Sheel Oberoi and Kerala Tourism Secretary, Suman Billa.

Suman, who made a presentation on the Spice Route Project at the UNESCO headquarters on November 14, also met its Assistant Secretary-General (Culture), Francesco Bandarin and Ambassadors of several countries that are part of the Spice Route. During the meeting, he strongly supported the idea of the Spice Route Project and lauded Kerala Tourism’s initiative in reviving a lost heritage.

“We are delighted to receive the support of UNESCO for the Spice Route Project,” said Kerala’s Tourism Minister, A P Anil Kumar. “I am sure it will help the revival of Muziris, which was the beginning point for the spice route”.

The Spice Route Project is aimed at sharing the heritage among the 31 countries along the ancient route. The initiative is expected to bring in a substantial number of foreign tourists to Kerala to trace the historic journey.

Earlier, the Spice Route initiative of Kerala Tourism had received the support of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The initiative is expected to not only re-establish Kerala’s maritime relations with the countries on the Spice Route, but also promote tourism and revive cultural, historical and archaeological exchanges between these nations.

“The Spice Route Project will go a long way in promoting heritage and peace,” said Billa, adding that UNESCO wanted Kerala Tourism to start working on the project at the earliest. “Bandarin told us that the approach of Kerala Tourism in taking up the project through UNESCO and UNWTO was the right one”.

As a first step, UNESCO has asked Kerala Tourism to prepare an inscription by a small team of experts for eliciting cooperation from each of the 31 countries involved in the project.

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