An intensive national campaign to woo tourists from across the country to the forthcoming Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF) was flagged off on Monday from the national capital.
The colourful campaign, which will travel to eight major cities in the run-up to the mega fiesta, was flagged off from the Kerala House in New Delhi by Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, in the presence of a host of dignitaries.
The campaign vehicle, heralding the advent of God’s Own Country onto the global shopping calendar, will have stop overs at Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Indore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore before culminating at Kannur where the 48-day mega fiesta is set to be launched on December 15.
The South Indian Bank-GKSF, already billed as the biggest fiesta of the kind in Asia, aims to transform the entire state into ‘one single shopping mall’ with high-voltage campaigns, promotions, catchy discounts, incentives from the government and gifts and gold worth millions of rupees, coinciding with the peak tourism and pilgrimage season.
Among the vast number of dignitaries and leaders present at the flag-off function in New Delhi were MoS for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution K V Thomas, Mos for HRD Shashi Tharoor, MoS for Labour Kodikunnil Suresh and Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar.
The road-shows, supported by Kunnath Pharma, are being organised in association with the Kerala associations and South Indian Bank (SIB), the title sponsors of the event.
MPs P C Chacko, P T Thomas, K P Dhanapalan, N Peethambara Kurup and Anto Antony, Kerala House Resident Commissioner Bishwanath Sinha, GKSF Director U V Jose and SIB GM J Raphael (Delhi) were also present.
Anil Kumar said that the road-show was part of the government’s attempt to make GKSF more popular. “Happening during our peak tourism season, the GKSF will aim to tap the purchasing capacity of the tourists flocking to the state,” he said.
“The average tourism spending in Kerala is currently five per cent. Our target is to push this to 10-15 per cent by positioning GKSF in a bigger way. The government is giving 100% VAT refund to the outside travellers,” he said.
“Countries such as Thailand, China, UAE and Malaysia have already confirmed their participation. We are talking with more countries,” he disclosed.
U V Jose said that the Global Village, which was set to be open to the public for 15 days from December 22, would be a miniature representation of the richness and diversity of the world.
“The participating nations will have space of their own to showcase their cultures, traditions and crafts,” he said. “States such as West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have confirmed their participation. We are also trying to rope in more states,” Jose said.
The annual fest, held under the aegis of the State Government in collaboration with trade bodies, is the only one of its kind in the country to evolve a new marketing season at such a scale.
Traditionally, Kerala had only one marketing season - Onam. But over the past years, GKSF has emerged as its second-biggest marketing season, drawing in millions of customers.
The shopping festival is conducted by the Tourism Department in association with the Industries & Commerce Department, Finance Department and Local Self-Government Departments. For details log on to www.shoppingfestival.in or call the toll-free number: 0 4444 44 4444.