KTM concludes, enriches Kerala’s post-flood tourism vision

Kerala made milestone advances in tourism by charting steps to stir up the crucial industry that contributes to a tenth of its economy, as the country’s biggest travel event concluded on Sunday by vowing to reinvigorate the sector recovering from last month’s natural calamity.

The four-day Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) has announced plans to reinvent its decade-old responsible tourism, update customised packages, strengthen tools of publicity, broaden the tourism map and deck up heritage spots to woo more travelers to God’s Own Country. The event held from September 27-30 had 35,000 business meets involving 1,635 buyers (545 of them from 66 foreign countries).

At the valedictory function in the state’s commercial capital, KTM organisers said Kerala KTM-2018 has earned a special place in the state’s tourism. “It is historic, coming as it is a month after the worst natural calamity our people faced. I even wonder how our tourism would have got back to track but for this KTM edition coming at the right time,” said Kerala Tourism Secretary Rani George.

KTM-2018, which brought an array of entrepreneurs from across India and abroad, had 325 sellers in 400-odd stalls that were opened by Union Tourism Minister of State K J Alphons. The venue at Willingdon Island also hosted four seminars by experts.

KTM-2018 President Baby Mathew noted that the event had its 1,090 domestic buyers shortlisted from 5,000 applicants besides 535 foreign buyers from 2,000 applicants. “That shows the trust the world has in Kerala’s tourism,” he added.

Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran said that KTM-2018 has lent a smile of hope to the faces in the industry in contrast to a general gloom that prevailed among its captains till a week ago. “This edition has proved that KTM is not a celebratory event, but a business meet,” he added.

KTDC Director Rahul R hoped the industry to be near-normal by this December. The other speakers at the valedictory function were Responsible Tourism state coordinator Rupeshkumar K, besides former KTM presidents Jose Dominic, Abraham George, Riaz Ahmed and Jose Pradeep.

Both KTM-2018 organisers and delegates said the biennial event, which was inaugurated on Thursday by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, acted as a major incentive in further promoting public-private participation in the fields of travel and hospitality, wellness and culture.

Enthused by the encouraging response, the KTM Society is mulling about a change of venue for its 2020 edition to a permanent venue that will be spacious as well plastic-free.

If KTM-2018 triggered a change in public perception that last month’s deluge has crippled the state’s tourism, the event reinforced the spirit of Responsible Tourism that has completed a decade in Kerala, by triggering schemes that promote jobs.