Memorandum submitted to Tourism Minister in Berlin
The Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agencies of Europe has urged Kerala Tourism to intervene to get the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vizhinjam relocated for the benefit of tourism industry.
Besides relocation of the ICTT, the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators also sought direct flights from major European cities to Thiruvananthapuram and visa on arrival facility for European travellers coming to the country.
The three demands were put forward to Minister for Tourism A.P. Anil Kumar and Secretary, Kerala Tourism, Suman Billa, who led a delegation from the State to the recently concluded ITB Fair in Berlin.
The European Travel Agencies numbering over 2,500 and having a total annual business of 250 million Euros (Rs.1,500 crore) a year to Kovalam and Vizhinjam urged Mr. Anil Kumar to reconsider the site for Vizhinjam Port.
The travel agencies with their many decades of experience in Kerala highlighted the importance of beach tourism for Brand Kerala in the European market in their memorandum submitted to the Tourism Minister at the ITB venue.
Kovalam beach and Vizhinjam are the most demanded places by Germans and European travellers, it has been pointed out. Kovalam and Vizhinjam with Ayurveda and beach tourism were the most established USP Kerala had to offer, the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators said.
The travel agents network in Europe would send over a lakh tourists every year to Kerala and 80 per cent of them proceed to Kovalam and Vizhinjam area as part of their holiday before visiting other parts of the State.
“The present location of the port is very bad for tourism. The natural beauty of the beaches of Vizhinjam and Kovalam will be permanently lost and construction work disturbances and port operations will destroy the future of tourism,” the memorandum said.
“We will not be able to send guests to a place where noisy disturbances will come up and where we will face complaints from our guests. As European tourists make plans to visit and travel even a year in advance, we will have to stop recommending guests to Kovalam and Vizhinjam in future,” they said.
The association said that introduction of visa on arrival and direct flights by Air India from the major European cities to Thiruvananthapuram would further boost the European tourism market in a big way.
According to the association, the Minister took note of the concerns raised by Kerala Tourism partners in Europe. Gianni Demozzi, managing director of ISIS Ayurveda Tours, who led the European travel operators, said the Minister was briefed on why it was important to change the port location to safeguard the tourism industry of Kovalam.