Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy gave away the Kerala State Tourism Awards for 2013-14 at a function held here on Wednesday.
A total of 27 awardees under three categories were primarily decided by an expert panel deputed by the Tourism Department. They were ratified after a thorough scrutiny by a high-powered committee under the Tourism Secretary.
Giving away the awards, Oommen Chandy suggested that cash prizes should also be given to all the awardees. Accepting the suggestion, State Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar announced that cash awards will be given to the winners from this year (2013-2014) onwards. Currently, the winners of tourism awards are given mementos and certificates.
Intersight Tours and Travels Pvt. Ltd. won the best award for in-bound tour operator.
Leela Kovalam (Raviz Group) bagged the award for the top five-star deluxe hotel, while Kumarakom Lake Resort won the best five-star hotel award. Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel has been adjudged the best four-star hotel, and Marari Beach Resort of Alappuzha won the top three-star hotel award. Coconut Lagoon at Kumarakom is the best heritage hotel.
Somatheeram Ayurveda Beach Resort Pvt. Ltd. at Kovalam won the award for the best Ayurveda centre, while Coconut Creek at Kumarakom won the best homestay award. The award for the best serviced villa went to British County, Munnar, while the award for the best recognised houseboat operator went to Rainbow Cruise, Alappuzha.
The award for the best hotel manager went to Mathew C Thomas of Vivanta By Taj, Kovalam, while Oriental School of Hotel Management at Lakkidi in Wayanad pocketed the award for the best tourism management institute.
G Jyothilal, who is a senior sub-editor with Mathrubhumi Yathra (Kozhikode), won the award for the best tourism reporting. Mathrubhumi senior news photographer C Biju won the best tourism photographer award, while the award for the best tourism magazine went to Green Leaf.
The award for new initiatives in tourism for this year went to Waterworld Live Museum of Ernakulam Tourist Desk, while Somatheeram Ayurveda Group, Thiruvananthapuram won the award for the best use of information technology in tourism.
The best performance award in Responsible Tourism went to Our Land Backwater Resort initiative at Punnapra in Alappuzha by Chalukya Grace Tours Pvt. Ltd.
The Best Adventure Tourism Award went to Calypso Adventures Pvt. Ltd. of Kochi.
State Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar presided over the function, which was attended by Devaswom Minister V S Sivakumar, Kerala Tourism Secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao IAS and Tourism Director P I Sheik Pareeth IAS, among others.