Leading international players among participants
Fifty-three national and 10 international exhibitors are participating The World Travel and Tourism Council predicted 11.6 per cent growth
KOCHI: The fifth India International Boat Show began at Le Meridien International Convention Centre here on Friday.
Fifty-three national and 10 international exhibitors are participating in the three-day event. There are 25 sellers from Kerala. There is participation from Europe, the U.S., Australia and Asia. Over 400 buyers registered for the show.
Many major international boat makers are participating in the show. They include Bayliner from the U.S. and Feretti from Italy, makers of the most luxurious yachts. Their yachts are priced Rs. 5 crore and upwards. The others include Walker Bay, Trophy and Regal.
The boat show has special segments for leisure boating, marine equipment, marine engines and navigational and telecommunication aids. Apart from stalls put up in 7,000 square feet of product-display space, there are 10 traditional boats, snake boats, houseboats and conventional boats on show.
Inaugurating the event, Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the waterway from Manjeswaram to Kovalam would be developed with the help of the Central Government. "Eco-friendly houseboats will be given tax concessions.
A Kerala Tourism Finance Corporation will be set up to make available funds for readying infrastructure like roads," he said. He said the show would provide an impetus to the boating and tourism industry in Kerala, which is now largely confined to the backwaters and houseboats. Principal Secretary, Kerala Tourism, E.K. Bharat Bhushan said there was 30 per cent increase in seller participation this year.
Tourism was a major sector in the State, providing employment to over one million people, he said. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicted 11.6 per cent growth rate for tourism in Kerala up to 2013. The State is the fastest growing destination in the world.
The participation of exhibitors like the British Marine Federation - U.K.'s apex marine industry association, Gulfcraft, GC Marines and Art Marine from the UAE is a testimony to the growing acceptance of the show. There is also participation from marine-equipment makers like Garmin, Lalizas, Plastimo, Vetus and Volvo Penta.
The Indian participants include boat builders like Praga Marine, Seaspray Aluminium Boats, Hunter Marine, Aries Marine and Alcock Ashdown. A special area of focus is Kerala's traditional boating sector. The exhibitors from Kerala include shipyards like Samudra, Century and Master, Matha Marine and Kondo Syokai. The highlight of this year's show would be the arrival of six sail boats, which are participating in the Vasco Da Gama boat rally from Turkey to Goa. They are expected to arrive at Bolghatty Island on Saturday.
The Kochi visit was not part of their itinerary, but they decided to sail down on coming to know that the port city would host the international boat show.