Kerala Travel Mart kick starts in Kochi

The Kerala Travel Mart 2018 has kick-started in Kochi at the Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolghatty on September 27, with the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan officially inaugurating the event by lighting the traditional lamp. More than 1600 buyers from India and abroad are in Kochi to participate in the Kerala Travel Mart. The buyers group includes representatives and heads of tourism projects and heads of tourism from the country and outside. Of the 1600 buyers, 545 are foreign buyers. “It is for the first time that we have these many buyers participating in an event in Kerala. This shows the confidence of the people on the attraction and strength of the tourism sector in Kerala,” said Pinarayi Vijayan after inaugurating the event.

The chief minister also said that the tourism centers should ensure that the natural environment and beauty of the destination to be taken care of while rebuilding the sector. Malabar already has a prominence in the tourism map. Malabar has also found a place in Lonely Planet’s as one of the ten tourism destinations to be seen in Asia, the minister said. With the inauguration of the Kannur Airport, Malabar’s tourism development will get a major push, said the CM.

Union Tourism Minister K J Alfons said that the tourism sector in Kerala has come back within a month after the deluge and is ready to meet the tourists. The tourism industry in the country is growing rapidly. The growth in this sector is double the international average. Kerala’s tourism sector should be able to grab this opportunity,” he said.

The president of KTM Society, Baby Mathew, said that Malabar was selected as focal theme of KTM-2018 to tap the tourism potential of Malabar. MLAs Hibi Eden, Thomas Chandy, State Tourism Secretary Rani George, Tourism Director P Balakaran, Kochi Metro MD Mohammed Hanish, KTDC MD R Rahul and KTM Society Managing Committee members were also present at the occasion.

The exhibition will be held at Samudika and Sagara Convention centers at Wellington Island until September 30th. The buyers have come from 66 countries including USA, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and UK. The mart will also see the participation of 1090 domestic buyers. At around 400 stalls, 325 sellers will also attend the event. More than 50 journalists from abroad and from different parts of India are also participating in the event. The entry to KTM is limited only for those registered with KTM. The last day of the event, on September 30, will be free entry for the public. Besides the exhibition and trade meetings, KTM will also conduct four workshops on different topics.

State Tourism Secretary Rani George, Samir MC and EM Najeeb will participate in the workshop on Friday on the topic ‘Tourism: An Engine for Economic Prosperity’. The first workshop on Saturday is on the topic ‘Changing Trends in Travel and Tourism’. Former chairman of KTDC and co-ordinator of Nava Kerala project, Cheriyan Philip, Suman Billa IAS and Siya Siddiqui will speak on this theme. The second seminar on September 29 is on the topic ‘Impact of Responsible Tourism in Kerala’. rincipal Secretary, State Cultural and Scheduled Tribes Department; Venu V, Responsible Tourism State Coordinator Rupesh Kumar and Jose Dominic of CGH Hotels will address the audience on the topic. Last day’s workshop on the topic ‘New Products and Interests in Kerala’ will be attended by representatives of Ayurveda, Yoga, Muziris Heritage Project, Jataya para and Homestays.

The main attraction of the event is the public-private partnership. The participants, including tour operators, hotel, resort, homestay operators, houseboat operators, Ayurveda resorts, and cultural and arts centers will get the opportunity to conduct effective discussions and interactions with the buyers from around the world. Contemporary issues include rainwater harvesting, plastic consumption, waste management, integrated organic farming, energy efficiency  and extensive use of domestically sourced and manufactured products are among the priorities of KTM-2018.