The State is getting ready for yet another season of the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF). State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who is also in charge of Tourism, said here on Saturday that there was greater enthusiasm in organising the festival this year because of the success of the first two seasons. He described the shopping festival as a good step forward in reclaiming the position that Kerala had held once in the global trade map.
The 45-day event will open on December 1.
The government proposed to make use of the growth, which Kerala had achieved in the tourism sector, to transform the State into an international trade tourism destination.
Kerala, an international super brand in tourism, generated revenue to the tune of Rs. 12,000 crore from this sector in 2008-09. Around six lakh international tourists and 76 lakh domestic tourists visited the State last year alone.
The aim of the shopping festival was not limited to encouraging tourists to buy products but to make them combine tourism with trade. If a large number of such tourists visited the State, it would help generate interest in the State’s traditional products like cashew and coir in the foreign market. He wanted foreign traders to be brought to the production centres in the State so that they could view the manufacturing process for themselves and sign commercial agreements.
The traders in the State should be able to innovate for the foreign buyers.
For all that to happen, the infrastructure of production centres should become more developed, the surroundings of the marketing centres should be made more attractive and thoroughly clean. The workers should rise above standards to understand the new designs and ideas quickly enough and be able to communicate at least on a basic level with foreigners.
He realised that the rekindling of the traditional manufacturing sectors in Kerala could not be achieved overnight. He felt that the GKSF would need a minimum of five years to accomplish the target.
He pointed out that the State’s shopping festival was entirely different from the shopping festivals being held in other places like Dubai and Singapore.
Instead of being limited to a centralised exhibition or stall, the GKSF was spread across the State.