The fifth edition of the annual Grand Kerala Shopping Festival is all set for a colourful start for 45 days from December 1, welcoming shoppers and tourists from across the world.

“Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will inaugurate the event on the day in Kochi. A turnover of around Rs 2,500 crore is expected. The previous year's turnover was around Rs 2,200 crore. Over 3,000 shops have already registered for the shopping festival,” said Rathan Kelkar, Additional Director, Department of Tourism and the Director of the GKSF.

Shops from across the State can participate in the festival. This will thus create a channel of about 7,000 retailers from categories like jewellery, textiles, electronics, automobiles and furnishing. The festival is an apt opportunity to showcase Kerala's handicrafts, hand-woven and khadi products too.

“Kerala's market share in the Indian tourism landscape has been increasing over the period. With innovative promotional initiatives like GKSF in place, we can raise the tourism profile to more international markets. Through the GKSF, we want to ensure better quality visitor experience and multiple community benefits, establishing Kerala as a global brand,” Mr Kelkar said.

Kerala was the first State in India to promote such a shopping festival on a mammoth scale.

There will be an opportunity for small scale entrepreneurs and manufactures to showcase their products, without the involvement of middlemen. Kerala's traditional art forms would be staged in select locales for the benefit of domestic and international tourists who visit these fairs.

Shoppers can enjoy good discounts through scratch-and-win coupons and also test their luck through daily and weekly lucky draws.

Over the 45-day period, they would get their share from the 101 kg of gold on offer.

This year, the festival will provide a 100 per cent VAT refund for consumers from outside the State who shop using their credit cards.

Mr Kelkar said the festival will be on during the peak tourism season in Kerala. Opposition Leader V.S. Achuthanandan will be the chief guest at the inauguration, while Tourism Minister A.P. Anilkumar will preside over the function.

Industries Minister P.K Kunjalikutty will launch a GKSF–KTDC package. Film actor Mammootty and Jayaram will be present.

Night shopping

“We plan to promote night shopping in Kochi from December 20 to Jan 1,” Mr Kelkar said. There would be a fire show by an artist from the Czech Republic. Programmes by film stars and playback singers will add to the gaiety. “Trade bodies, residents' associations and the police have promised all help for the festival,” he said.

The official closure of the festival would be held in Malappuram on January 21. Entry to the inaugural function will be regulated through free passes, available at most print and visual media offices, including The Hindu .

A road show was flagged off here on Monday, aimed at creating awareness on the shopping festival.