The Yunnan Provincial administration of China will approach the China Eastern Airlines to explore the possibility of operating direct flights to Kerala.

The Yunnan Provincial administration of China will approach the China Eastern Airlines to explore the possibility of operating direct flights to Kerala.

The move was aimed at tapping the tourism potential of both Kerala and Yunnan, said Jin Cheng, Deputy Director General, International Regional Cooperation Office of Yunnan Province. Ultimately, it is the airline that will decide on the operation of flights. Discussions will soon be held with them, he said.

Eleven-member delegation, including Mr. Jin, attended the Emerging Kerala Summit on Tuesday. The team had also visited some tourist destinations here, including Fort Kochi.

The provincial administration in China is willing to showcase Kerala and its tourist destinations there. The Kerala authorities too could reciprocate it here so as to benefit both destinations. Such an arrangement will also benefit international visitors to these destinations as they will come to know about the other destination. The regional cooperation office will approach the State government with such a request. The two destinations could also think in terms of exchanging tourists too, he said.

Yunnan is considered the gateway to China. Geographically, it is also the closest Chinese province to India, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Like Kerala, Yunnan, too, is a destination that attracts visitors in large numbers. It’s also one of the biggest and finest tourist destinations in the country. The province has strong presence in infrastructure development, energy and coastal transport sectors. There are also daily flights between Kolkata and Kunming, the capital of the province, Mr. Jin said.

Domestic visitors constitute a major portion of the tourists to the province. It is estimated that around one million foreign tourists reach there annually. With the Kerala economy booming, there was scope for cooperation between the province and Kerala, he said.

“We would like to see more Indian tourists there,” he said.

Mr. Cheng was of the view that the high quality services sector of the State, including its hotels, was its strength.

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