Kerala Travel Mart: State tourism conclave goes virtual in March

Tour operators, buyers and sellers will convene from March 1 to March 5 at B2B conference, the Kerala Travel Mart. The five-day event will provide a virtual platform to enable stakeholders to collaborate on measures to revive tourism in Kerala post-COVID.

Kerala state governor Arif Mohammed Khan has called for inter-state cooperation and a simplification of taxes and tariffs to boost domestic tourism following the COVID-19 pandemic. “A better industry-level co-ordination in hospitality and transportation and an inter-state understanding to rationalize and simplify taxes and tariffs will help in leveraging the true potential of our domestic market in tourism,” he said at the inaugural ceremony of the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) that took place on February 28 at the Uday Palace Convention Centre in Thiruvananthapuram.

A virtual platform to revive Kerala’s tourism sector

Touted as India’s biggest B2B tourism event, the 11th edition of the Kerala Travel Mart will run virtually from March 1 to March 5. “The virtual conclave seeks to propose a model that can inspire confidence in the stakeholders while carrying out measures towards restoring the growth momentum of tourism in the post-pandemic scenario,” says KTM Society President Baby Mathew Somatheeram. The conference is expected to connect 600 sellers, 500 foreign buyers and 1,500 tour operators with around 40,000 meetings scheduled via videoconferencing over five days.

Kerala backwaters salvo pappalardo flick creative commons
The Kerala Travel Mart will connect stakeholders to revive tourism in Kerala post COVID. (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Salvo Pappalardo)

Ahead of the event, Kerala Tourism Principal Secretary Rani George highlighted Kerala’s upcoming tourism campaigns which will focus on distinguishing the state as a preferred travel destination for its unique cultural heritage. The governor added that the state’s tourism strategy would also emphasise safety and be tailored to post-pandemic consumer demands. He also expressed hope that governments and communities would work together to meet the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. “This is vital in tourism where the basic assets are nature and the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity. ‘Green, clean and safe’ should be the motto of all tourism activities,” he said.

Government announces relief packages for Kerala tourism industry

The Kerala government has been working to revive tourism in the state following the COVID-19 pandemic. In August last year, Kerala Tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran announced a Rs 455-crore financial package for the tourism sector. Of this, Rs 100 crore has been set aside for the Tourism Employment Support scheme which will provide short term loan assistance of Rs 20,000–Rs 30,000 to permanent and contractual employees and daily wage labourers as per the list provided by employers through the Kerala Bank. The remaining Rs 355 crore has been allotted to the Working Capital Assistance Scheme, which will provide working capital assistance ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 25 lakh. Small enterprises will be eligible for a working capital loan between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 3 lakh, and large operators can avail a loan ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh under this scheme. In September, the Department of Tourism also announced one-time financial grants, ranging from Rs 80,000 to Rs 1,20,000 for the maintenance of houseboats.

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