Kerala Tourism makes successful foray into China

Thiruvananthapuram, June 29 (IANS) Riding on the early success of a high-voltage ‘Visit Kerala’ campaign, Kerala Tourism has embarked on an aggressive drive to tap the vast Chinese market.

Leading Chinese outbound tour operators have shown strong interest in Kerala at the Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) 2015, which concluded on Sunday in the Chinese capital.

The sprawling Kerala Tourism pavilion themed on the backwaters and ‘Kalaripayattu’ was a huge draw among the visitors to BITE, the leading Asian travel and tourism fair.

“We are encouraged by the tremendous response from the Chinese tourism industry,” said Kerala Tourism Minister A.P. Anilkumar in a release issued here on Monday.

“Considering that it was the first ever participation of Kerala Tourism in BITE, it gives us a lot of confidence for the future,” added the minister who led the delegation.

Among the initial visitors to the Kerala Tourism pavilion were Beijing Vice Mayor Chang Hong, and Wang Xiaofeng, the Vice Chairman of China’s top tourism authority, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).

Kerala Tourism’s trade partners participating in BITE 2015 also held meetings with their Chinese counterparts to establish a firm collaborative partnership with each other. Along with its trade partners from the state, Kerala Tourism is organising a road show in Shanghai on Tuesday.

“We are confident that by tapping into the vast Chinese market, we will be able to substantially increase foreign tourist arrivals in our state,” the minister added.

A highlight of the occasion was the invitation to Kerala Tourism to join the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF), a global tourism body that aims for world peace through tourism.

Kerala Chief Secretary Jiji Thompson and Kerala Tourism Secretary G. Kamala Vardhana Rao met WTCF Director General Song Yue, who is also the head of the Beijing Municipal Commission for Tourism Development.

“It is an honour to be invited by WTCF to become a member. The objective of our initiatives like strengthening the Spice Route heritage with other countries along the ancient route and implementing sustainable tourism is achieving peace across the world,” said Rao.

The Kalaripayattu – Kung Fu fusion and a Kathakali performance at the Kerala Pavilion were the major attractions for visitors to BITE 2015.

“With three international airports in the state ready to grab the Visa on Arrival facility for Chinese visitors, we expect a steady arrival of tourists from China during the ‘Visit Kerala’ year”, said Thomson.

Kerala saw a 34 percent increase in tourist arrivals from China last year over the previous year. According to figures available for 2013, 175,000 Chinese tourists visited India.

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