Kerala introduces new tourism initiatives

July 29th, 2008 - 11:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, July 29 (IANS) Kerala is introducing “path-breaking” initiatives to further boost the tourism industry, which contributed over Rs.110 billion ($2.62 billion) to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year. Marching ahead of other states, Kerala’s tourism department has come out with innovative programs and packages to sustain the sector’s annual growth rate of 24 percent.

Volvo Ocean Race, an offshore yacht race around the world, scheduled to stop in Kochi in December this year, travel mart and grand Kerala shopping festival, scheduled this year, are expected to further give a fillip to the tourism sector.

State Tourism Director M. Sivasankar told a news conference here Tuesday that the dream season, launched last year, was converting traditional off-season (April-September) into a season of opportunity for travellers. Aimed at domestic holidaymakers, it offers a host of packages.

The official was here as part of the department’s efforts to market Kerala tourism in other states.

He said the total revenue from tourism during 2007 was Rs.114.33 billion, an increase of 25.28 percent over last year. The foreign exchange earnings for 2007 were Rs.26.41 billion, a record growth of 32.82 percent over the previous year.

Last year, 515,000 international tourists arrived in Kerala, a growth of 20.37 percent over the previous year. The domestic tourist arrivals also increased by 5.92 percent.

Sivasankar said the Volvo Ocean race would enhance Kochi’s standing as the hub of leisure sailing and cruising. The world’s premier offshore yacht race, referred to the ‘Everest of sailing’ is coming to Asia for the first time.

Kerala travel mart, a biennial event showcasing the best of Kerala and bringing together business fraternity and entrepreneurs behind the tourism products, is scheduled to be held in Kochi Sep 20-23 this year.

He said the state also introduced responsible tourism, aimed at involving local community in development of tourism destinations.

The grand Kerala shopping festival 2008-09 is scheduled to be held from Dec 1, 2008 to Jan 15, 2009. The state government has earmarked Rs.200 million in the budget for this event, which will be the largest shopping event of its kind in the country.

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