Kerala curios to take on Chinese souvenirs

As part of the Kerala Souvenir Network project, branded artefacts will be made available in tourist destinations and Responsible Tourism portal

An artisan of talent from Wayanad, Biju Babu weaves magic into bamboo, crafting artefacts that reflect the beauty of Kerala. Yet, his painstaking craftsmanship is being eclipsed by an avalanche of inexpensive Chinese imitations flooding the local market.

“I am disheartened. It is casting a shadow over my creative endeavours and spirit,” Mr. Babu says.

Across the nation, it has become increasingly commonplace to find trinkets and mementos bearing the emblem of Kerala. Yet these “soulless” souvenirs churned out in far-flung factories in China or north India offer no true link to Kerala’s vibrant culture. “On closer inspection, we find that they are neither made in Kerala nor handmade. You need not be surprised to find a ‘Made in China’ inscription on it,” says Jaiji Elizabeth, an artisan from Kozhikode.

For artisans like Mr. Babu and Ms. Elizabeth, however, a flicker of optimism is emerging, courtesy an intervention of the Kerala government. The Kerala Souvenir Network, launched by Tourism Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas on Thursday, is perceived to be a solution to the situation.

“The products of this network will be branded under Kerala Tourism and will be made available exclusively at premium government-authorised outlets at resorts and tourist destinations across the State besides on the Responsible Tourism portal,” says K. Roopesh Kumar, State coordinator of the Responsible Tourism Mission, the nodal agency for implementing the souvenir network.

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