Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) got off to a start on Sunday evening, as state Governor Arif Mohammed Khan inaugurated the country’s biggest tourism meet with a call to highlight domestic tourism for better collaboration among states and greater understanding between people.
“A better industry-level co-ordination in hospitality and transportation and an inter-state understanding to rationalize and simplify taxes and tariffs will help in leveraging the true potential of our domestic market in tourism,” he said, declaring open the March 1-5 virtual summit, through videoconferencing, that aims to revitalize the state’s travel sector in the post-Covid scenario.
Stressing the need to embrace the spirit of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) by treating domestic tourism as the mainstay for the industry when global air travel is facing restrictions, the Governor said, “Let tourism enable people of every part of India to understand and value each other so that we strengthen our cultural unity as a nation.”
Khan complimented Kerala’s tourism projects aimed at making it a “complete and different” destination with focus on cultural heritage. “We need to re-configure our business strategy by emphasizing on safety and security so as to meet the post-pandemic global demands and aspirations,” he added.
This is the chief aim of the 11th KTM, with close to 500 international buyers and 650 domestic buyers, facilitating 15,000 meetings between the buyers and exhibitors. By striving to restore the pace of growth of tourism that has slid since the outbreak of the global pandemic, the event by KTM Society will exhibit the various products of the state’s vital tourism sector. The summit is being attended by all members of the KTM Society, which is India’s biggest organisation in the travel and tourism segment.
The Governor, addressing delegates at Uday Palace Convention Centre here, expressed the hope that the post-pandemic global consciousness will expect governments and communities to renew work to meet the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. “This is vital in tourism where the basic assets are Nature and the tangible and
intangible heritage of humanity. ‘Green, clean and safe’ should be the motto of all tourism activities,” he added at the function organised in adherence with Covid-19 protocols.
Dr V P Joy, Chief Secretary of Kerala, chairing the ceremony, said Kerala tourism is on a revival path, involving right from grassroots workers to top-level functionaries.
He noted that the ongoing vaccination, which is to pick up in Kerala from March, would help the state get out of the pandemic — to the benefit of its tourism. “Once we are through with Covid-19, the industry will be back on the rails,” Dr Joy added.
Kerala Tourism Principal Secretary Rani George spoke how new campaigns were helping the state resume tourism after the outbreak of Covid-19. Ayurveda can be an added attraction for the tourists arriving in the state, known for the ancient wellness system.
Listing a set of new heritage products, George specially invited tourists to visit the state’s northern parts that have been given a fresh focus.
Kerala Tourism Director V R Krishna Teja, IAS, said KTM 2021 gives deserving space to small and medium buyers, adding to the synergy of trade and tourism.
India Tourism Regional Director (Chennai) D Venkatesan said several destinations, despite the Covid-induced issues, have begun to clock footfalls. “Kerala has done well in conserving nature and devising products while making strides in tourism,” he noted.
KTM Society President Baby Mathew Somatheeram, welcoming the gathering, said the virtual mart would show the world that Kerala is successfully fighting out the novel coronavirus. The event highlights the state’s capability to bring in tourists amid a changed world order, he added.
KTM Society former President E M Najeeb reiterated the need to review the quarantine for domestic tourists. Abraham George, another past president of the Society, proposed a vote of thanks.