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Venu Vasudevan Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram

Venu Vasudevan currently serves the Government of Kerala as the Principal Secretary, Tourism, and looks after three more departments. With over 15 years of experience in senior management positions, Dr Vasudevan is the longest serving officer in tourism in India. Dr Vasudevan joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1990, and has served the Government of India and state Government of Kerala in various capacities. Born in 1964, Vasudevan earned a degree in medicine but later chose to take up a career in the civil services.

He has served the sectors of Tourism and Culture in a variety of assignments. It was during his tenure as Director, Kerala Tourism, and later as Secretary, Department of Tourism, that Kerala transformed its market positioning and built up a strong private–public partnership, culminating in Kerala being recognized by the National Geographic Traveller as one of the 50 ‘must-see’ destinations of the world. Kerala Travel Mart, the biggest international travel mart in India, is his brainchild. He served the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and played a pivotal role in formulating the ‘Incredible India’ campaign.

Two projects designed by him have won international awards instituted by Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). Utsavam, a project to revive the traditional art forms of Kerala and provide income streams to artistes, won the PATA Gold Award 2008 (http://www.pata.org/ update-from-past-winners). ‘A Day with the Masters’, a guided tour of Kerala Kalamandalam, a school for performing arts, won ‘honourable mention’ in 2005 (http://www.kalamandalam. org/adaywithmasters.asp).

He served as Secretary, Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala (2007–2011), during which period the International Theatre Festival of Kerala (http://www.theatrefestivalkerala.com/) was established. He was instrumental in setting up and curating a new museum, Keralam (http://www.museumkeralam.org/). He played a key role in the improvement and upgradation of the museums and archives of Kerala.

Moving to the Union Government, he served as Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, with responsibility over apex cultural institutions, libraries, archives and Museums. As the Director General of the National Museum (from January 2013 to May 2015), he headed a team that worked on the revival of National Museum, initiating a range of projects that improved arrivals, enhanced visibility and involved stakeholders and the academic community. He was invited to be a participant in the Global Museum Leaders Colloquium of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He served as the Vice Chancellor, National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology.

In the tourism sector, Dr Vasudevan has deep interest in community-based tourism. He organized the 2nd International Conference on Responsible Tourism, and was instrumental in establishing a robust model for Responsible Tourism in Kerala. He writes extensively on communities, responsible tourism and the changing role of public sector in the tourism sector.

Apart from his official responsibilities, he is a keen theatre actor and an avid fan of Arsenal football club.