Steena Joy – Kochi
The 48th convention of the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) held in Kochi recently focused on tourism for inclusive growth and urged the hotel and restaurant sector to adopt sustainable practices to ensure long term growth. Speaking at the inauguration, Dr K Chiranjeevi, Union tourism minister announced that 29 mega tourism projects have been identified for implementation under the Public-Private Participation model in Kerala. One of them, the mega Alapuzha Backwater Development Project, was launched by the tourism minister the same day. A provision of Rs 47.62 crore has been made by the tourism ministry towards this project.
Guest of honour Sitaram Yechury, MP, chairman, Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture said that there was an acute shortage of qualified guides and urged the industry to “create curiosity about our civilisation and then create infrastructure to host the visitors who give in to that curiosity.”
Explaining how Kerala is a model for Sustainable and Responsible Tourism, which was the theme of the convention, K P Anil Kumar, minister of tourism, Kerala, in his keynote address said that despite economic crisis, the state has gained Rs 500 crore from tourism in the last two years. Suman Billa, secretary, Kerala Tourism made a presentation on Kerala’s responsible tourism model and how it has put India on the global map. He informed that Kumarakom has been shortlisted as one of the two sites for a Global Observatory on Responsible Tourism.
Vivek Nair, president, FHRAI, said that the convention was an opportune forum for wide-ranging discussions and sharing of best practices on the industry’s strategic and competitive response to today’s challenging environment. Commenting on hosting the convention for the first time in Kerala, Jose Dominic, joint honorary secretary, FHRAI applauded the success story of Kerala in terms of tourism and hospitality, focused on three key principles – sustainable, inclusive and local. The inaugural session also saw the release of a coffee table book ‘Responsible and Sustainable Tourism: The Kerala Model’ brought out by Express Hospitality from the Indian Express Ltd.