Chandy to inaugurate travel mart on Thursday

The State government will accord priority to the proposed seaplane service project between tourist destinations in Kerala, Minister for Tourism A.P. Anilkumar said.

It was among the about two dozen tourism projects showcased at the recent Emerging Kerala investment summit. “Kerala’s asset is its plenteous waterbodies. Moreover, about 58 companies have shown interest in the venture, apart from two plane manufacturers (Dornier and Twin Otter),” he said at a press meet here on Monday. The press meet was organised prior to the four-day Kerala Travel Mart (KTM 2012) to be inaugurated at Le Meriden here by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Thursday.

The Minister said that steps were being taken to spruce up the deteriorating Ernakulam Boat Jetty and tourist locales such as Fort Kochi. “An amount of Rs.10 crore has been given to augment tourism amenities in Fort Kochi. Similar projects are planned across the State and the one for Kovalam will be launched on October 2. Work at Munnar, Kumarakom etc., will be taken up in later stages.”

He expressed happiness at the fact that the number of tourist footfalls in the State had crossed the 1 crore mark in 2011-2012. Figures released by Kerala Tourism state that 7.32 lakh foreign and 98.81 lakh domestic tourists visited the State during 2011-’12. “The State’s tourism sector outlived the global recession, while simultaneously recording an increase in tourist arrivals,” Mr. Anilkumar said.

Speaking about KTM 2012, president of the KTM Society Riaz Ahmed said that this will be the seventh edition of the business-to-business event. Held every two years, the event brings together entrepreneurs behind Kerala’s tourism products and services. “The mart began in 2,000 with 150 sellers and 350 buyers. This time, there are 416 sellers and 2,196 buyers, of which around 500 are from 48 countries.”

Buyers must meet at least 10 sellers each day to ensure that serious business takes place at the mart. Bar-coded badges will be issued to all participants to keep tabs on this. Post-mart tours will be organised to familiarise buyers with different locales. The public will be permitted entry to the venue on Sunday – the final day of the mart.

Three seminars will be organised on the themes — responsible tourism, buyers’ perspective of Kerala, and IT solutions for tourism.

“Small players in the tourism sector will find the mart very useful since they will be able to interact with a global buyer profile,” said Mr. Ahmed.

The cost of organising the mart is Rs.10 crore, for which the State government would give Rs.1 crore, Mr Ahmed said. He exhorted the government and other stakeholders to brace up to the competition. “The relative peace in Kashmir has seen many north Indians preferring the destination to Kerala, while numerous foreign tourists show a preference to Sri Lanka.”

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