Curtains went up on the sixth season of the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival at a massive opening ceremony held at the Municipal Jawahar Stadium in Kannur on Saturday evening.

The shopping festival was formally opened by Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal. The inaugural ceremony was preceded by a programme featuring 101 percussionists led by Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar.

The dignitaries attending the ceremony lighted six traditional lamps on the stage representing six years of the festival.

In his inaugural speech, Mr. Venugopal said the GKSF this year would give an impetus to Malabar, which was on the threshold of major development in the tourism sector.

Terming the shopping festival an initiative for strengthening the economy of the State, he said the major beneficiary of the festival was the tourism sector that had an investment potential of Rs.20,000 crore and employed 10 lakh people.

The Minister said the shopping festival was also an opportunity to showcase the State’s products, skills and heritage.

Responsible shopping should be developed through the fiesta, he said adding that the Global Village being started in Kochi as part of the GKSF was an initiative that would take the festival to the level of major shopping festivals such as the Dubai Shopping Festival.

In his presidential address, Tourism Minister A.P. Anilkumar said the GKSF was becoming more popular every year thanks to the support of the trading community and the public.

In the course of a few years, it would become one of the biggest shopping events in the world, he hoped.

Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan; MLAs A.P. Abdullakutty, Sunny Joseph and T.V. Rajesh; actor Dileep; District Collector Rathan Kelkar; district panchayat president K.A. Sarala; and municipal chairperson M.C. Sreeja were among those who attended the opening ceremony.

The inaugural function was followed by an entertainment show, which included musical and dance programmes.

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