Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 7: Taking a U-turn, the CPI-M led LDF government in Kerala today decided to organise the annual Onam celebrations here on a grand note, including the colourful pageantry on the final day of the week-long festivities.
Announcing details of the Tourism Department sponsored Onam celebrations here between September 12 to 18, Tourism Minister A C Moideen said due to paucity of time for preparations, the government had earlier decided to skip the pageantry.
But following demand from different quarters, it has been resolved to hold the impressive procession as usual.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would inaugurate the celebrations on September 12.
Perhaps for the time, persons from transgender community would participate in the cultural event organised as part of the celebrations in the city.
Decision of the government to do away with procession, which marked the finale of the festivities and also considered to be one of the major event to showcase the state's dance and arts form and culture, had invited flak from various quarters.
"We have taken the decision with good intention and there is no need for any row over the issue now," Moideen said.
The government had also come under criticism after it imposed restrictions on Onam celebrations in government offices during duty hours.
Security would be strengthened in the coming days in the city in view of the celebrations, he said.
Moideen said that the ninth-edition of three-day Kerala Travel Mart, considered to be the largest gathering of tourism, will begin on September 27.
A total of 57 foreign countries would participate in the trade event this year, including 10 first time participants.
China, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Georgia, Chile, Greece, Iran and Botswana are the new participants, he said.
Stating that growth rate of tourism in the state has fallen in the recent days, he said discussions held in travel mart and trade generated would strengthen the brand image of state and help state's tourism industry grow even bigger.
To a question whether closing of bars below five star category following previous government's liquor policy had an adverse impact on tourism, he said, "Liquor policy alone was not the reason. There are some other factors also such as connectivity, competition and finding new markets.