KTM-2020 to be plastic-free; plans are afoot for a permanent venue

An encouraging response to the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) has prompted the idea of a much spacious permanent venue from the next edition of what is already the country’s biggest tourism event, organisers said on Sunday.

KTM-2020 will also be plastic-free even as the September 27-30 venue of the biennial event took exceptional care to ensure cleanliness, they told a press conference. The just-concluded edition saw 35,000 buyer-seller meets, 15,000 of them involving delegates from foreign countries.

Kerala Tourism Secretary Rani George emphasised that KTM-2018 has enabled a general change in public perception that last month’s deluge has crippled the state’s tourism. What’s more, it has reinforced the spirit of Responsible Tourism that has completed a decade in Kerala, she added.

“RT will from now be further boosted with in a way that promotes jobs in tourism,” the senior bureaucrat said. “There will be resurgence in the state’s travel and hospitality sectors.”

Kerala Tourism director Mr P Bala Kiran said the speed with which the organisers ran the last lap to host KTM-2018 a month after the natural calamity stands proof to the state’s spirit of resilience. “It’s a positive lesson not just for us in Kerala, but the whole of India and even the world,” he added.

Responsible Tourism state Coordinator Rupeshkumar K said the inception of an RT Mission a year ago has seen a surge in the number of units under it — from 361 in 2008 to 3,861 today. Also, the flood-hit Chennamangalam (Ernakulam district) and Aranmula (Pathanamthitta) known their traditional clothe-weavers and mirror-makers are being included as part of the package of RT. As many as 95 foreign delegates at KTM-2018 have agreed to partner in Kerala Tourism’s RT, which gives job to 30,000 families, while 7,800 of them are direct beneficiaries, Rupeshkumar added.

KTM-2018 President Baby Mathew said the total of 35,000 business meets is comparable with any such event of international repute. As for RT, he said a new project to braid coconut-tree fronds as thatched roof for hotels and cottages has already got an order to procure 5 lakh palm-leaves.

KTM past president Abraham George said KTM-2018 has sent across the global message that Kerala is working on its tourism with renewed vigour. KTM secretary Jose Pradeep said the decision to avoid plastic at the next edition was keeping in view of the emphasis on cleanliness, which was already evident in KTM-2018.