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Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar

Destination Canada, Canada's national tourism organisation to promote tourism, is all set to welcome close to 280,000 Indian travellers in 2018. In 2017, the destination had witnessed 18 per cent growth with 254,000 Indians travelling to Canada.

Speaking about the growth, Carl Vaz, CEO & Strategy Director, Destination Canada, India GSA said, “Canada is a long-haul destination for Indians, which is why we only look at the upmarket leisure segment and the luxury segment from India market. We are not in the competitive set of the mass destinations. We are more into the luxury and the high end markets. In 2017, we welcomed 254,000 Indians from January to December with a growth rate of 18 per cent. In 2018, we hope to close the year with around 280,000 which will again give us a double digit growth.”

Indian tourists spend on an average close to $1,500 per trip to Canada. The most common trip purpose for Indian travellers to Canada is to visit friends and family in 2017 and this segment was up an estimated 45 per cent over 2016.

Destination Canada has signed an MoU with the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) to conduct knowledge sessions at 10 destinations including; Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Indore, Jaipur and New Delhi.

Throwing light on India strategy, Vaz said, “We have signed a MoU with TAAI in India to organise 10 city roadshow in India. Though this tie up, we intend on training or acclimatising around 700 TAAI members. In Mumbai alone, we had over 120 members. We have also tied up with UBM which organise SATTE exhibition to organise a four series webinars, we have already completed three of them, and these were very successful.”

According to report published on the Government of Canada website, Canada is set to expand its biometrics collection program and is now taking steps to prepare for December 31, 2018, when nationals from countries in Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will need to give their biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) when applying for a visitor visa, study or work permit, or for permanent residence. Even India will be included under this phase.

Speaking about the new biometric introduction Vaz, “We will be training and sensitising the travel trade in the end of this year and January.”

The destination is now looking to promote winter tourism in India and also promote the destination during the popular Indian festivals. “The passenger traffic to Canada goes up in May to July. As a strategy, we are now marketing the festival season including, Diwali, Durga Puja, and other Indian festivals. We have also started marketing the winter wonderland concept in India which is the Christmas, New Year as well as January and February. This covers the honeymoon segment and the snow skiing segment,” Vaz said.

The destination is also coming up with a MICE strategy for the India market. He said, “We have a subsidiary division for MICE and we are in the process of formulating a strategy for India and will be announced next year.”

Jeju Tourism Organisation in association with Korea Tourism Organisation organised roadshows in Mumbai and Delhi recently. Jeju Island is now looking to attract Indian travellers and is looking to increase visibility in India market.

Speaking about the Indian market Park, Hong-Bai, President, Jeju Tourism Organisation said, “Last year we welcomed 2400 Indian tourists in Jeju Island. We provide visa free access to174 countries and India is one amongst those countries. With the help of the travel trade and media and more promotions we are targeting to welcome 10000 Indian travellers to Jeju in the coming year.”

In 2010, Jeju Island was designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark for its unique volcanic topography and beautiful landscapes. The destination is promoting nature and landscape along with the MICE segment. Globally, Jeju Island receives a significant number of MICE travellers.

He further said, “MICE movement is nil from India so far. But we are one of the most attractive MICE destinations globally. We have excellent convention facilities and infrastructure for MICE segment. Jeju is a lava volcanic island and we have nature and heritage. We have a lot of attractions in our destination. We are more focused in promoting nature. We also have collaboration with Hong Kong Tourism, wherein travellers can visit Hong Kong and then combine Jeju Island along with the tour.”

This is the first time Jeju Island is promoting its offerings in India market. The destination is further looking to organise familiarisation trips and various activities to spread awareness.

Yoon Chang-ho, Chief Official, Tourism Policy Division, Tourism Marketing Team, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province said, “This is our beginning in India market. We are organising roadshows in Mumbai and Delhi. This being our first step, we will come back more often to educate travel trade in India. This year we have already invited celebrities such as Miss India to showcase the destination. We will also work with travel agencies, media to further promote the destination. We will plan fam trips to promote the destination. We are not aiming at any particular segment as of now. We will first bring up the volume and then look at weddings, MICE and other segments.”

In an effort to grow tourism from India, Western Australia is aggressively looking to establish new connectivity from India to Perth. The Western Australian Minister of Tourism has made two visits to India in the recent months and has met six Indian carriers to introduce routes between major cities in India and Perth.

Speaking about the development Paul Papalia, Minister of Tourism, Western Australia said, “Last time I was here two months ago, I met with senior executives of six airlines to talk about establishing new routes. We committed to coming back with providing them with business cases for travelling to Perth. We are delivering those, we also met with State Minister for Civil Aviation last time and we are meeting him again this time. We are putting business cases to the six airlines so that they understand the dynamics. Around 145,000 people are flying between India and Western Australia each year in both directions is a significant number. What we have said is we will work with whoever flies first. We are establishing relation with the Minister of Civil Aviation in India. As a state Government we will give all support to the airline and will offer money to market the route for a period. We are not locked down to any one route or airline and are open for any major city.”

In the last decade, Australia has become a popular destination amongst the Indian travellers. Still Western Australia is yet to make a major mark in this market; the destination has now started focusing aggressively to attract the Indian outbound.

Papalia said, “Earlier, we had the benefit of the mining boom; we had never seen tourism as a segment and were a bit myopic. Previously there was not much effort into diversifying. We as a new government elected in March last year, came by saying we would diversify the economy and invest in tourism and are responding to what was our failure in the past.”

Western Australia is now promoting itself as a destination with authentic experiences and they recently launched a new campaign to promote road trips.

Speaking about the USP of the destination Papalia added, “Western Australia is the authentic Australia. We are the actual experience that people would desire when they travel. India is a maturing market and they know what they want. They want to get out and experience things and get close to nature. We also launched a campaign to promote road trip. Western Australia has vast open expanse and beautiful access to pristine nature and sparse population. In the past that was often seen as negative, we turned that around and say that this is an opportunity for having road trips that will really be a bucket list experience.”

India is the number one market for Western Australia in terms of the students segment. The destination is looking to further grow this segment.

Papalia said, “Student market from India is the biggest we have, it’s slightly more than China. We have over nine per cent student market of the entire Australia. We think we can grow it to 25 per cent easily in the next couple of years. A big part of that is to get direct flights, which will make it easier to attract students. Then their families can visit and will boost our tourism, we are working collaboratively with all universities now to sell Western Australia as a study destination.”

Being a mining state, the destination also offers a lot of mine tourism products. Also with new infrastructure the state is eyeing to attract MICE travellers from India.

Speaking about the products Papalia said, “We are the most attractive MICE destination in the nation as we have the newest hotel product, we have a huge capacity and a lot of new hotels are coming up, forcing down the price overall. We have convention and conferencing centres and are very keen to partner to attract business travellers. In terms of Mining travel we have some magnificent mining options. We have the only operating Mint in Australia in Perth. One can do a tour of the Boddington Gold Mine which is one of the biggest gold mines in the world. We also have the Galvin’s port which is in the city. We have a lot of tourist mines which travellers can explore.”

Karma Group, an international chain of luxury hotels is focusing to expand further into the India market. The group currently owns and operates four properties in Goa and one in Rajasthan and Kerala each.

Speaking about their expansion plans John Spence, Founder of Karma Group said, “As Karma Group, we have grown to 27 resorts across Europe, Australia and Asia, but India still remains an extremely crucial market. With four properties in Goa and one each in Rajasthan and Kerala, we are re-focusing on India and have exciting expansion plans on the cards, which include setting up two more properties a year, for the next five years. We want to do more in Goa as we think it’s a tremendous space with enormous potential. We also want to explore both North and South India. Going beyond Kerala, we are nurturing expansion plans along the East coast like Pondicherry, Chennai and Coorg.”

The group witnesses healthy loadfactor across all its properties in India. This year due to the floods in Kerala, the occupancy has gone down in the particular state. Spence added, “Occupancy has been extremely good in the India properties this year. Depending on the time of the year, the average occupancy is 80 per cent. This year the rainfall was particularly heavy and for Kerala the occupancy did suffer. In general our occupancy is been well headed, we were extremely pleased with not the number of guest but also with the quality of the guest primarily the people who stay in our resorts were old club members. We are not a private members club than we are a vanilla hotel company; hence RevPar is not what we use too so much. We plan to open two more properties India owing to the positive response.”

Events are one of the forte for Karma Group, across all its properties the group organises various events and entertainment activities which draws a lot of travellers.

Speaking about the entertainment and events Spence said that events are an integral part of the business. He further said, “One of the key developments is the introduction of Karma FM, a 24 hour radio streaming facility available across resorts, on the app and the website. Curated and hosted by a main DJ of Karma, the content is well-received.  We are expanding the beach club in Bali with an intention to have our customers enjoy the best as we double the area. The investment will also include a uniquely fashioned swimming pool, sushi bar, DJ booth on the beach. For Karma Sanctum in London we have entered a joint venture with Iron Maiden. We are also expanding the roof top bar to incorporate a larger list of events.

The group is also crafting a speciality inhouse wine to further enhance the guest experience. Also Karma is entering the Glamping segment.

Speaking about the new products Spence added, “We will be unveiling the wine crafted by Karma soon. The wine is made in the Medock, well-known as a wine growing region of South France. We have also introduced an event named Glamping where we are incorporating tents, yacht at our resorts. We have recently signed a contract to take this on the road. We will be taking these too few of the festivals in Chella, United States and in England. The idea is to have a mobile Karma resort during the festivals. People will have the opportunity to stay in the glamping units and have an experience of Karma through the spa areas and more during the festivals. You can buy from an option of two tickets.”

Post the most disastrous flood of the century, Kerala has ready to welcome tourists. In the last couple of years, the destination has focused aggressively to promote the Northern part of Kerala. As a major boost to the destination, in December the new international airport in Kanur is set to be inaugurated.

Speaking about the plan Rani George, Tourism Secretary, Kerala said, “In a small state like Kerala we have three international airports; the fourth International airport is going to be inaugurated in December in Kanur. This will increase connectivity to the Northern part of Kerala. Now our focus will be to promote the Northern part of Kerala. There is a vibrant rich culture and heritage in this part of Kerala.”

In 2017, Kerala welcomed 10.91 lakh international travellers and 146 lakh domestic with a steady increase. George said, “Kerala is popular across the globe we are getting travellers from UK, USA, followed by Eurpoean countries, Middle East, Russia. For the domestic we are receiving travellers from Southern States, Maharashtra, Gujarat and some Northern states. The International arrivals have been growing every year and in 2017 our international arrivals is 10.91 lakhs. The domestic arrivals were 146 laks in 2017.”

To further change the perception of the travellers post floods, Kerala Tourism conducted a Tourism Readiness Survey. Under this survey the state identified 70 tourist destinations. The survey was conducted with various parameters to check if these destinations are tourism ready.

Speaking about the survey George said, “We all know about the floods which damaged the whole state and all the tourists. Kerala has come back and we are ready to welcome tourists. With each passing day we are bouncing back. Here in India we are having the partnership meet. We did a Tourism Readiness survey from September 5-15, 2018 across major destinations. We identified 70 major tourist destinations in Kerala. We surveyed the destinations, hotels and connectivity and other infrastructure in these destination. We found that out of these 70 destinations almost 90 per cent has become operational and all the major destinations became operational within one month. A few places in Thrissur and Palakad was not operational due to connectivity.”

Post floods Kerala also organised the 10th edition of the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM). The event witnessed major success and received participants from across the globe.

Speaking about the Mart George added, “After the floods, the first major event for us was the Kerala Travel Mart which witnessed a huge success. The 10th edition was much bigger than previous edition with 593 international buyers from 66 countries and 1090 national buyers. We also had 313 sellers. With such numbers we would have to look of a bigger venue next year. We also held pre and post mart tours for buyers and media. This activity was excellent to change the perception of everyone that Kerala is back on track.”

Also, Kerala is coming with up new attractions and products. The state is all set to organise the 4th edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in December. This event is set to welcome a significant number of international travellers.

Speaking about the new products she added, “People know about our beaches, backwater and mountains, now we have launched new products. The 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale is set to happen in December, which is a three months event where artist from different countries put up art installations. Large number of visitors comes to visit this event. We are also coming up with the Jatayu Earth Centre located near Trivandrum in the district of Kollam. This is a private initiative under PPP scheme; they have setup a huge bird sculpture. This attraction will also have a lot of adventure activities. They are also setting up a virtual reality museum which will be operational in November.”

The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) recently organised its second Sales Mission in Mumbai and New Delhi. The group had introduced this format last year which had tasted success, this year the event witnessed much better participation. This year 57 general managers from several of the IHCL properties participated in the event and interacted with 310 interested partners in Mumbai.

Renu Basu, Senior Vice President, Global Sales, IHCL said, “The purpose of organising the Sales Mission is a very critical initiative to build engagement and educate all our travel partners. As a brand we want to be the most iconic and profitable brand. This is a great platform under one roof. Last year we had 37 hotels, this year we have 57 hotels participating. This will be an annual event now. We are also targeting the wedding and MICE segment through this mission. This year we also have the Ginger participating in the mission. We also have the new hotels coming in this time. We have a large footprint in India, our brand is known but we wanted to do things differently. In addition to this we do small events in markets like Pune, Nagpur, Ludhiana and other smaller cities. In addition we participate in trade shows.”

For the first time, international IHCL properties also participated in the sales mission. There was representation from two hotels in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, a hotel in London, Langkawi and Bhutan. Also, there is a special focus to further develop the MICE and the Weddings segment.

Speaking about the weddings segment Basu said, “Weddings are a very important segment for IHCL. We have been the venue of choice for over seven decades, as we grew our footprints across the nation we have always been on top of the list for weddings. We are well poised to manage and cater to demands from this segment. Weddings is a part of our DNA. Beach properties and palace properties are witnessing a lot of demand for this segment apart from city properties.”

The group has now changed the positioning of The Ginger Hotels as lean luxury segment. During this Sales Mission, even Ginger properties were present in numbers. Out of the 15 new openings for the group six are Ginger brand hotels. 

She further said, “I truly believe how the market has evolved and the organisations whole approach towards the Ginger brand. We have changed the logo and a lot will change right from the service, experience to the product offering. There is a whole plan and the properties will be renovated. One of our Goa properties is undergoing renovation and will be developed with our new product specs. In future our Gingers will be developed with these new specifications.”

Sands China is all set to transform the Sands Cotai Central complex into ‘The Londoner Macao’. Like the other popular properties Venetian Macao which is Italian themed and The Parisian Macao which is French themed, this new property will be English themed with suites and attractions.

Speaking about the development plans Stephanie Tanpure, Vice President of Sales, Sands China said, “We are now transforming the Sands Cotai Central into The Londoner Macao, which will be British themed. The property will have some of the most recognisable landmarks from London and more attractions will be added. This will really help visitation in Macau and will be a game changer for us. We are still working on the details of the property. As part of the Londoner we will have a Londoner Hotel which we are working on.”

India is amongst the top five source market for The Sands Resorts Macao, with a tremendous growth year on year. The Venetian Macao has stood out as the most popular property amongst the Indians.

Tanpure said, “We have seen some fabulous results from the India market. India is within our top five markets. In terms of visitor arrival in the first quarter of this year, Macao Government has seen a 7.9 per cent in Indian arrivals. This clearly is seen within the hotels also and has strong results not only in MICE but also the FIT segment. The Venetian is the favourite amongst the Indian travellers and the Parisian Macau is also being well accepted in India. Indians are taking more interest in the family suites; a lot of tourists are staying here and exploring other properties. We are here to further promote this property.

Recently as part of a of a six-month, 15-city roadshow, Sands Resorts Macao hosted cocktail and dinner events in Mumbai and New Delhi to introduce the integrated resort’s newest offerings to the travel industry, meeting organisers and media partners, while at the same time thanking them for their continued support.

Tanpure said, ““We make sure that we always reinvent ourselves for the India market. Meeting face to face to bring our partners up to date on all our developments is vitally important in communicating a shared vision and we are grateful for this opportunity. Also, the MICE market is very important for us. We promote it through the Ultimate Download platform; we have seen a lot of success with results from this event in India market. If we look year-on-year, the average size of Indian MICE groups have doubled in size and we have seen a threefold increase in spend, f&b and attractions. As part of that travellers are coming with higher propensity to spend in guest rooms and suites which has surely given rise to demand for luxury properties. We are seeing Indian travellers exploring our entire portfolio.”

In terms of trends, Sands Resort Macao has witnessed significant growth from the tier II markets. “We are seeing significant growth from the Tier II cities. With the millennial generations travelling a lot and with the aid of low cost carriers, this is fuelling growth in outbound travel. Now Low Cost carriers are coming into Macao through Asian Hubs are helping,” she added.

With India being the fifth top market, the other four top source markets for Sands Resort Macao are China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.

Beautiful Soul, a newly launched specialty tour company eyes to tap the potential of the wellness tourism segment. The group at this stage is looking to target niche segments which are yet to be explored by growing Indian outbound and inbound.

Speaking about the development, Rajan Kalra, Founder, Beautiful Soul said, “We have received a very encouraging response from the industry. We have a fresh concept; Beautiful Soul takes you to a path of healthy lifestyle with wellness travel, a concept that allows vacationers to think about ones well-being on a holiday break that helps enhancing your physical and spiritual growth in the midst of the most serene surroundings. We at Beautiful Soul are committed to providing a professional service to our customers, ensuring they benefit from our experience, unique style and energy. With a large number of partners and affiliates around the World, we also welcome groups from overseas into India.”

Speaking about the wellness segment he said that Indian wellness tourism market is poised for healthy growth in the years ahead.

Kalra added, “Wellness tourism essentially refers to travel to a different country or region in order to get physiological and mental tranquillity through the native therapies of that region. In the contemporary times, globalisation has not just led to the exchange of products and services across regions, but has also led to an exchange of cultures. Hence, the demand within the global market for wellness tourism is expected to reach new heights over the forthcoming years. Wellness tourism refers to travelling wherein activities planned for health and well-being are on top priority. Trips organised for wellness include healthy food, spa treatments, exercise, and opportunities for spiritual and creative development.”

Initially the group is set to tap India and SAARC region. Also the group will launch its B2B inbound tours vertical at SATTE 2019, South Asia’s largest travel trade exhibition.

Speaking about further plans he added, “We are on the brink of penetrating a premium market in a rapidly growing wellness tourism sector. Beautiful Soul is poised to take advantage of this growth and moderate competition in the Wellness holiday portion of the industry. We intend to provide Wellness and Nature trails packages to pan India & SAARC countries. Services and products provided by Beautiful Soul will initially include pre-arranged tours, custom packages according to client specifications, travel consultation, and as time progresses B2B inbound tours among other related services. Our B2B inbound tours vertical will start at SATTE 2019.”

With a relatively small number of arrivals from India market, Turismo de Portugal is now looking to increase awareness in this market. The destination recently organised a two city roadshow in Mumbai and Delhi. Portugal welcomed 34,600 travellers from India in 2017.

Speaking about the development Filipe Silva, Member of Board of Directors, Turismo de Portugal said, “The Indian market has been producing vey low figures for Portugal. But we are aiming to essentially increase awareness and numbers. We also want to increase commercial relations between Indian and Portugal companies. Last year, we welcomed 34,600 Indian travellers in Portugal which represents about 92,000 room nights. We witnessed 19 per cent growth in terms of overnight stays and a growth of 25 per cent in terms of revenues. The length of stay is just under three days. Currently, we have combined packages with Spain and Morocco, which decreases the average stay.”

The destination is also looking to target MICE travellers from India, especially incentive segment. Without a direct connectivity, the tourism board is increasing its relation with partner airlines to further strengthen connectivity.

Silva said, “We currently don’t have a direct flight from India to Portugal. We have scope to work with different airlines and we are aiming to reinforce our commercial relations with these partner airlines. MICE segment is relatively low but has a huge potential and we have world-class facilities for this segment. Our main highlight for MICE will be Lisbon and Porto, but we are aiming to develop more regions for incentives.”

The destination recently organised roadshow to educate and motivate the focused invitee list of preferred travel agents, tour operators and trade partners and update their knowledge about Portugal. Initially the destination will focus on targeting families, couples, senior travellers, women only groups, golf, weddings segment, honeymooners apart from FIT business.

“We have seven regions in Portugal, majority of Indian travellers start from Lisbon. We have good road and train infrastructure so travellers can go to any regions or the two archipelago. We are now developing a more consistent strategy to attract Indian travellers now. There is a lot of potential here, Indians are looking for more destinations, experiences to explore and we do have. We want to improve connections with more specialised tailor-made tour operators. We will improve our connectivity with further negotiations with our partners. Apart from that we will promote the destination through social media and digital marketing,” Silva added.

Recently, the Government of Portugal has also introduced a rebate for film productions. “Our government has just approved a rebate system for film shootings. We provide 25 per cent of the production cost. We will be targeting this segment from India,” Silva added.

Currently the major source markets for Portugal are UK, France, Germany and Spain. The destination is now eyeing long haul markets like US, Canada, Brazil, India, China, Japan Australia, and South Korea.

The pall of gloom that had descended on Kerala’s globally famed tourism and hospitality industry in the wake of the August floods appears to have lifted if the message filtering from the just concluded Kerala Travel Mart -2018 is any indication. With the state ticking all the boxes to win back the confidence of tourists, God’s Own Country has bounced back with an incredible resilience, removing any lingering apprehension about its preparedness to receive visitors in the October-March tourist season.

It is true the initial portents were extremely unnerving for the state’s tourism industry. The floods had rampaged through 12 of Kerala’s 14 districts. The tourism infrastructure, especially roads got affected while a string of bookings were cancelled in August. In effect, Kerala Tourism was staring at a loss of Rs 1,000 crore, a sector that contributed Rs 33,000 crore in 2017, accounting for 10% of the state’s GDP and a little over 23% of its total employment. In fact, there were doubts whether the KTM (Sept. 27-30) would be held at all. But the biennial showpiece event, India’s biggest conclave of tourism sector stakeholders from across the world, was not only held but it also turned out to be an unqualified success.

Facts speak for themselves: 35,000 business meets involving 1,635 buyers shortlisted from 7,000 applicants (545 of them from 66 foreign countries – the highest in the KTM history so far), 325 sellers in 400-odd stalls and the highest number of foreign buyers from US and the UK. That definitely showed the trust of global tourism industry in Kerala.

“It is historic, coming as it is a month after the worst natural calamity our people faced. I even wonder how our tourism would have got back to track but for this KTM edition coming at the right time,” Kerala Tourism Secretary Mrs. Rani George said about the event. Her sentiments were echoed by Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran. “The KTM lent a smile of hope to the faces in the industry in contrast to a general gloom that prevailed among its captains till a week ago. This edition proved that KTM is not a celebratory event, but a business meet. It’s a positive lesson not just for us in Kerala, but the whole of India and even the world,” he noted.

A major advantage of the KTM was that it successfully built confidence among tourists and other stakeholders of the industry in particular and made a perceptional change among the people in general about the post-floods Kerala. It also sent out a screaming message to the world that the state had brazened out the adversity with a remarkable degree of gumption and resilience and speedily too. More than that, it gave a platform to the government and other stakeholders to discuss the future roadmap for the tourism industry, which is the third highest revenue-earner after remittances from the Malayali Diaspora and the animal husbandry.

The KTM, inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, announced plans to reinvent its decade-old responsible tourism, update customised packages, strengthen tools of publicity, broaden the tourism map and spruce up heritage spots to increase the footfalls. When put into practice, it would give a huge fillip in further promoting public-private participation in the fields of travel and hospitality, wellness and culture.

Take the example of Nefertiti, the Egyptian themed luxury vessel of the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC). To be launched by this month-end, it may chart a new course in cruise tourism in Kerala. Named after the beautiful Egyptian queen Nefertiti, it will have several features to remind the people aboard of one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The Chaliyar River Challenge 2018 (a 68-km kayaking championship), which is aimed at tapping the potential of adventure tourism in the state, will also be held as per the schedule. The recent installation of a giant sculpture of the Jatayu bird mentioned in the Ramayana, a new addition in the inventory of Kerala Tourism, and the Muziris Poject are sure to woo the visitors.     

Further, the slant on Responsible Tourism (RT), a major USP of the tourism industry that has completed a decade in Kerala, is likely to trigger schemes that promote jobs. The RT–related schemes currently provide jobs to 30,000 families, while 7,800 of them are direct beneficiaries. According to experts, RT will give jobs to one lakh people by the end of FY 2017-18, while 10,000 RT units will be set up in the state by November.

A visibly relieved Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran appeared to be more than happy on the occasion. “A survey will be conducted seeking the possibility of offering job opportunities through tourism for people in the state’s flood-hit areas. Students of Kerala Institute Tourism and Travel Studies (KITTS) will conduct the survey among the natives in this regard. It will help bring more people to the tourism sector,” he said.

The government has earmarked Rs 700 crore for the tourism sector under the Nava Kerala reconstruction activities. The administration is also mulling about modifying certain laws for better tourism practices in the state, he said, adding: Kerala is back on track. God’s Own Country is ready to welcome tourists once again.”

Kerala Tourism has surely found its feet once again. But it needs to learn lessons from the catastrophe, lend an aggressive edge to its tourism revival plan and develop new products and services for realizing the government’s target of increasing tourism’s share to 20% of its GDP by 2020.



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