Kerala Tourism has launched an online training programme for the travel trade in the United Kingdom to get them acquainted with the unique tourism products as part of the efforts to increase tourist arrivals into God’s Own Country.

Thus, for the first time in the U.K., travel agents will be able to become Indian destination specialists by joining the initiative titled ‘Kerala Specialist’ programme.

A first of its kind by any State tourism department and corporation in the country, this novel venture of Kerala Tourism was launched by the Union Minister for Tourism Kumari Selja, at the prestigious World Travel Mart (WTM) 2009 in London on Tuesday.

The aim of the online training programme is to help travel agents and tour operators in the U.K. get acquainted with Kerala’s unique tourism products and use this added knowledge to increase tourism in the State.

The programme had been designed to tap the market further by reaching out to 40,000 travel agents throughout the U.K., says Kerala Tourism Secretary, V. Venu.

The U.K. is the largest source market for international tourist arrivals to the State. As many as 1,41,147 British arrivals were registered in the State in 2008 which is a 17 per cent growth over the previous year.

“Increasingly more and more Tourism Boards are reaching out to the trade in key markets by assisting sellers increase their knowledge, capability and sales to their respective destinations,” said Dr. Venu, who led the Kerala delegation to the four-day WTM that concluded on Thursday, said.

U.K.-based travel agents who participate in the online programme and who successfully complete the training will be awarded an official certificate by Kerala Tourism, and will be referred to as a ‘Kerala Specialist’.

The online programme could serve as a template for other tourism boards to emulate. Kerala Tourism will extend the training programme to other markets soon, Dr. Venu said.

‘Kerala Specialist’ programme has been developed in conjunction with Travel Uni, the leading online training provider in the UK specialising in providing destination, cruise, resort and product-based training to travel trade.

Six modules on Kerala includes in-depth knowledge about the history, culture and geography of the State; Kerala’s tourist attractions; tips and hints on how to sell Kerala; Kerala’s uniqueness and how to get to Kerala.

The advantages to the U.K. sellers enrolling in the programme include increased knowledge of the regions in Kerala; each region's unique selling points and how to build them into an itinerary; improved capability to plan, promote and sell quality Kerala holidays and knowledge and confidence to up-sell God’s Own Country.

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