Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 3 (IANS) The Kerala Travel Mart (KTM), a biennial event that showcases the state, will help sustain the 20 percent growth that Kerala tourism has registered over the years, organisers here claim.
According to E.M. Najeeb, chairman of KTM, the travel mart – the fifth edition of which ended Sep 23 – has now become the flagship vehicle to promote Kerala as a tourist destination.
‘Close to 35 percent of the international buyers and 45 percent of the domestic buyers that came for last month’s event are first time visitors,’ Najeeb told IANS.
‘One way how Kerala tourism is able to maintain a constant 20 percent growth in tourist arrivals is through new buyers, and this time too, we expect to do well in the tourist season that begins shortly,’ Najeeb added.
Last month’s edition saw the biggest participation with 570 international and 1,050 domestic buyers.
More than 50 countries were represented and 312 stalls were set up to sell various tourism-related products.
‘In terms of businesses signed, the numbers are confidential and no company will reveal figures. But certainly there is no doubt that a good amount of business was signed. My company signed agreements with at least a dozen countries for new business,’ said Najeeb.
In 2007, foreign tourist arrivals in Kerala grew 20.37 percent over 2006 to cross 515,000, while domestic tourist arrivals grew 5.92 percent over to cross 664,200.
Total revenues from tourism grew 25.28 percent to touch Rs.114.33 billion (Rs.11,433 crore).
Jose Dominic, who heads CGH Earth, a premier chain of resorts in the state, said that over the years, the travel fair has become one of the biggest travel events in Asia.
‘In terms of quality, it is improving every year and this is reflected in the increasing number of participants,’ said Dominic.
The KTM society, which runs the event, has decided to strengthen the marketing of Kerala.
Kerala’s tourism department will shortly convene a meeting of representatives from various Kerala organisations operating in numerous countries to plan the next event in December.