Thiruvananathapuram: The promotion of Malabar Tourism will be the focal theme of the upcoming 10th edition of Kerala Travel Mart (KTM), which will be a platform for extensive business-to-business meetings and chalking out measures to make the money-spinning tourism sector of the state a sustainable enterprise.

India’s largest tourism event, the four-day KTM will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on September 27 at 6pm at Grand Hyatt, Bolgatty, Kochi, coinciding with World Tourism Day.

Being organised by KTM Society in partnership with Kerala Tourism, the event will conduct its business-to-business meetings at Samudrika and Sagara Convention Centre, Willingdon Island, Kochi, from September 28 to 30.

It will offer a spectrum of opportunities to key players in the sector to forge business linkages and spur the growth of entire tourism industry. Experts will participate in four seminars as part of the event.

Announcing the details of the KTM 2018 at a press conference here on Wednesday, Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the opening of Kannur airport this year would  give a boost to  tourism in the Malabar region in north Kerala.

“With the inauguration of Kannur airport this year, the influx of tourists to Malabar region will increase. The implementation of the Malabar River Cruise project, covering nine rivers, has already begun. The government has sanctioned Rs 53.5 crore for this scheme in the first phase,” Surendran said.  He exuded confidence that the first phase of the river cruise project would be completed soon.

“Representatives from 73 countries will be attending the upcoming edition of the KTM. This will be the highest participation from abroad in the history of the KTM,” the Minister added.

He also noted that 350 international buyers and 890 domestic buyers have confirmed their participation.

Kerala’s Tourism Minister addressing the media to elaborate on KTM 2018

Baby Mathew Somatheeram, President KTM, said the 10th edition of the event will have 320 sellers compared to 261 last year. “Around 411 booths will be set up at the venue. There will be a Kerala tour for 50 foreign mediapersons prior to the KTM,” he informed.

Rani George, Secretary, Tourism Department, said the most striking  feature  of the KTM is that the event is a collaboration between the state government and tourism trade. “Tourism industry people, including hoteliers and tour operators and Kerala Tourism join hands for this big event. Kerala Tourism wants more investors to come to Malabar region,” she added.

This year, there will be more participation of international buyers from USA, Russia and its neighbouring countries. The stalls at the exhibition of KTM will feature an array of products, packages and services offered by businesses and entrepreneurs. The event will be an ideal avenue for buyers and sellers to expand their business territories and attract potential buyers. The pre-registration for India’s flagship travel and tourism event will close on July 28.

Public Private Partnership (PPP) being the main highlight of KTM, it offers a platform for stakeholders, including tour operators, hotels, resorts, home stays, houseboats, Ayurveda resorts and cultural art centres to have fruitful meetings and interactions with buyers from around the world.

The Society had adopted a comprehensive nine-point charter, ‘Agenda 9’, during KTM 2016, which called for measures to tackle waste management, promote organic farming, efficient use of energy and extensive use of local produce and products. Other key areas in the checklist are rainwater harvesting, reducing the use of plastics, and improving greenery.

This 2018 edition of KTM will focus on the Charter’s implementation aiming to make Kerala a sustainable destination. It will also exhibit new Kerala products to the world and sellers can take part in hundreds of productive business meets. This will be an ideal platform to bring various buyers under one roof.

Eurasia Beauty Queen Yana Filippova has accepted the KTM’s invitation to become the Goodwill Ambassador for Russia as part of strengthening the partnership between the two countries in the tourism sector.

This is in continuation of the summit meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and the Russian Federation President last year to celebrate 2018 as the Year of Tourism in India and Russia.

By Manoj

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