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‘’Tourism will be successful if it is experiential and qualitative’’

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How would you define the growth of tourism sector in South India and especially in Kerala?

E M Najeeb

India as a whole is developing as a choice tourist destination because of its uniqueness in many areas like heritage, history, culture, flora and fauna, natural attractions and the very people of the country. India has set an objective of promoting tourism and to double the tourist inflow during this planned period. Many measures are taken by the ministry of tourism, Government of India supportive of inbound tourism. The visa on arrival facility announced also gives an impetus to inbound tourism to India.

South India also is benefited by all these measures initiated nationally. It is a self-contained destination region with good connectivity. It has so many attractions unique in nature. It has beaches, backwaters, wildlife, cultural sites, history, heritage, art, plantations, hill stations, vibrant cities and towns, and serene villages. South India is ideal for cruise tourism as it has good ports on the eastern and western sides. Kerala Tourism has always been in the forefront promoting tourism in the state from the 90’s. The brand ‘Gods Own Country’ is well established as a popular destination brand.

What do you feel is the success of Kerala tourism?

Success of Kerala Tourism is primarily because there is a willing government that understands the need for developing tourism in the state and a very active and vibrant private sector tourism industry operating in the state. There are clear policies pronounced by the government namely ‘Kerala Tourism Policy’ as to how the tourism in the state has to be developed. There is a great amount of interactions and interfacing between the government and the private sector. Kerala is a pioneering state that advocated and implemented responsible tourism, which is an absolute sustainable model of tourism. The natural attraction of the state, good weather, educated public, high literacy rates, resorts, hotels and other facilities developed across the state are components for the growth of tourism in the state. Kerala has come to the world access primarily because of the good international connectivity.

What is the main highlight of the convention this year?

IATO National Conventions are occasions for the tour operators’ community in the country to get together at one place with the purpose of familiarising, discussing business, deliberating on issues in the industry and voicing demands and putting forth suggestions to the government and all other concerned agencies. This year the state of Kerala is lucky to have the 29th IATO Annual Convention in Kochi which will give an impetus to the tourism industry in Kerala. The convention and its outcome will be closely watched by the government and the media so that the opinions generated in the convention will attract attention and support. Moreover, one of the main objectives is to have the cream of the tour operators’ community from all over India to visit Kerala and familiarise with its products.

What is your message for the convention?

The 29th IATO Annual Convention taking place in Kochi from September 8-11, 2013 will be held under the theme ‘Tourism Innovations & Partnerships’. Tourism is a service industry, which is developed through relationships, networking and out of the box thinking and innovations. Tourism will be successful if it is experiential and qualitative. The visitor delight should be the highest objective. For delivering customer satisfaction, we have got to extend innovative services. Technology innovations also are changing the nature of the industry so much. In fact, the convention would proclaim excellent thoughts and ideas, on networking and innovation, for the tour operator’s community and for the future. My message to the tour operators community and the tourism stakeholders will be the same as the theme of the convention. Be Innovative and stand together to tide over the challenges of our industry.

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