KOCHI: Summer vacation is around the corner, and international flights would become operational soon. After a gap of almost two years brought about by the pandemic, Kerala’s tourism sector is seeing light at the end of the tunnel. The 11th edition of the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) expo scheduled to be held from May 5 to 8 couldn’t have come at a better time. According to tourism department officials, preparations for the mega expo to be held on the one lakh sqft venue at Samudrika-Sagara convention centre in Willingdon Island has reached halfway.
Beach destinations, hotels and responsible tourism initiatives are gearing up for the `4 crore-expo with the tagline ‘Breathe Fresh Air’, in honour of the state that fought Covid and won.
“KTM is one of the most hyped travel expos in the country. Promotional campaigns have started at the international level. This year, our focus will be on caravan and adventure tourism alongside the internationally-acclaimed Responsible Tourism projects. The market is almost making a fresh start post-Covid and we must put in maximum effort to convince global and domestic tourists to visit Kerala,” said Abhilash T G, deputy director,, tourism.
Spurt in hotel bookings
Bookings for sellers’ stalls at the mart have already started and buyers identified, said Jose Pradeep, secretary of KTM. “Inauguration venue will be finalised soon. Nearly 1,200 domestic buyers and 350 international buyers have shown interest in the expo this year. By March 23, international flight services will be resumed, allowing the arrival of global tourists. People are eager to travel and bookings for April have already started,” he said.
A Responsible Tourism presentation and seminars on various tourism subjects have been planned. International and national media have been invited for a tour of the state. Nine prominent destinations including Cherai have been selected for post-mart visits. A chartered flight from Kannur airport is expected to take mediapersons on a tour of the state.
The Tourism Development Society in Cherai is planning a new project titled ‘Experience Cherai’ involving experts from various sections, who can share their experiences with tourists. The collective project will comprise an environmentalist, fisherman, chef, coin and stamp collector, yoga teacher, ornithologist, wildlife photographer, fashion photographer, dancer and painter.
“The tourists will be given a chance to interact and learn from them. We will also take them to the boat building yard for a first-hand learning experience. They will visit Portuguese forts and get to be on the hop-on-hop off services in association with the Muziris project,” said Vinoj M V, one of the members of the society.
Return of water sports!
The water sports in the Munambam area restarted last month after a long closure following the Covid outbreak. Boogie boards, jet ski, banana ride, speed boating, quad bikes, bumper ride, kayaking, catamaran ride, paramotoring, lay low ride, sea swimming, kayak training, jet ski training, kneeboarding, windsurfing training, stand up paddling, helicopter ride and horse ride are available here, said Aslam Younus, operations manager at Neptune Water Sports. “Youngsters and sea lovers are quite eager to return. We are expecting more visitors once the summer vacation starts. Families and more domestic tourists are expected to reach by the end of the month,” he added.
History of ktm
Kerala Travel Mart Society was formed in 2000 with the aim to creating a common ground for travel agents from across the globe and the service providers in Kerala to connect. KTM claims to be the only Travel Mart that concentrates on a single state.