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Kerala Tourism targets Europe market at WTM London 2017

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Sharing the sustainable practices and ethical methods to drive the responsible tourism agenda, Kerala Tourism participated in a three-day-long World Travel Market London 2017 to highlight success of the state’s ‘Responsible Tourism Mission’ at a global platform. Kadakampally Surendran, minister for co-operation, tourism and Devaswoms, Government of Kerala, led the state’s delegation to the trade event, which showcased Kerala’s best-selling products, including its Responsible Tourism initiatives, beaches, hill stations, backwaters, houseboats and Ayurveda therapies, among an array of offerings. On the occasion, Surendran launched an initiative of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) – AyurBodha, highlighting the significance of Ayurvedic practices to attract tourists from across the globe.

A special session on ‘Kerala’s Responsible Tourism Mission’ was organised, moderated by Harold Goodwin, WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor, wherein Jose Dominic, CEO, CGH Earth Hotels, Cochin, and Xu Jing, regional director for Asia Pacific, UNWTO were present along with Dr Venu.

Surendran inaugurated the Kerala Pavilion followed by the launch of KTM brochure 2018. The pavilion was themed around backwaters and houseboats. WTM’s location added to its importance as the UK is the primary source market for Kerala Tourism. Kerala received 155,548 tourists from the UK last year, accounting for 17 per cent of the total foreign tourist arrivals to the state. Kerala Tourism has been conducting road shows in Britain and has been participating in the World trade Mart (WTM) for the last two decades.

Sharing views on the sustainable development approach, Surendran, “Owing to the tremendous growth of Indian tourism industry, there is an immediate need to invest and focus on sustainable tourism practices across the world to conserve India’s vibrant heritage. Kerala Tourism has always been on a forefront to promote tourism in a responsible manner. Recently, Kerala Tourism initiated a first-of-its-kind initiative in India – PEPPER (People’s Participation for Planning and Empowerment through Responsible Tourism), aimed at promoting unexplored and pristine destinations through people’s participation in the process of tourism planning.”

At the event, Dr Venu was amongst the key panelists for a discussion on contribution of tourism sector in local economic development. Highlighting the significance of Responsible Tourism at the event, Dr Venu, stated, “It gives us immense pleasure to be a part of the World Travel Market London 2017 that provides a global platform to draw special attention of the world leaders towards the significance of our ambitious Responsible Tourism mission. Under Responsible Tourism mission, Kerala Tourism has developed a community tourism network to include the local community not just as a participant, or even a beneficiary, but as a leader.”

This year, the awards ceremony focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the following categories: Best for Accommodation, Best for Carbon Reduction, Best for Communication, Best Community Initiative, Best for Poverty Reduction and Best Tour Operator. Kumarakom Responsible Tourism Initiative spearheaded by the tourism department of Kerala was awarded with Responsible Tourism Award at WTM London.

Speaking on the occasion, P Bala Kiran, director, Kerala Tourism and managing director, Kannur International Airport, stated, “With the aim of providing training, conducting research and studies in specific fields, Responsible Tourism Mission is aimed at promoting green principles in construction and waste management while protecting regional art and culture. In addition to that, the initiative has been providing employment to women and marginalised community.”

Kerala Tourism was accompanied by 12 private exhibitor-partners at the event: Alhind Tours And Travels, Grand Hyatt Bolgatty, Jayasree Travels and Tours Company, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, Kumarakom Lake Resort, Pioneer Personalized Holidays, Punarnava Ayurveda Hospital, Raviz Hotels and Resorts, Spiceland Holidays, Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel and Xandari Resorts.

This year, World Travel Market London featured 5,000 exhibitors from 182 countries and regions and attracted important tourism industry stakeholders from across the globe.