Tourism honchos bat for ethical tourism at Kerala Travel Mart

Several leading travel company CEOs from Kerala and abroad said on Friday that ethical tourism is set to define post-Covid travel, necessitating all stakeholders to provide customised services to the visitors which sustain nature and support the local communities.

The CEOs were speaking at a seminar on the theme ‘Changing Trends in Travel’ organised at the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) in Kochi.

KTM is the signature event of the Kerala Tourism Department and has been widely-popular since its inception in 2000.

The four-day event organised by the KTM Society is being held after a two-year gap due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The common concern that was pointed out was the need to focus more on hygiene and healthcare to address the concerns of tourists after two years of haitus owing to the pandemic.

Long-haul travel will not be the norm in the next three years, when most tourists will be keen on domestic trips on an unprecedented scale, speakers at the seminar noted.

V. Venu, Additional Chief Secretary, Kerala, said that travel operators must equip themselves to address the “anxious traveller”, who needs reassurance as life is returning to normalcy after the worldwide spread of Covid-19.

“Trips will become increasingly personalised; people will travel in small groups to relatively smaller destinations so the information provided to them should be authentic. Responsible tourism, which strives for sustainable nature and stronger role of local communities, will gain vitality,” Venu said.

Berlin-based social anthropologist, Rika Jean Francois, said tourism should no longer be measured by gross revenues, but its impact on the local people.

“We must stop cultural erosion. Communities should be involved in much stronger ways. Destination management is far more important than destination marketing,” she added.

Delhi-based Amit Sharma, who heads A&K Luxury Travel, said the travel industry is moving from being part of the service to experiential economy.

“We have to curate experiences and cater to customised services in the changed travel equations after the pandemic,” he added.

Noting that domestic tourism is going to be the bedrock of the sector after the pandemic, hotelier M.C. Sameer said Covid-19 taught people the value of life in its broader sense.

“Several families have suddenly realised the necessity to maintain a healthy work-life balance and the need to be connected with near and dear ones. There is an increasing tendency to take quick and short breaks,” said Sameer, Managing Director, Fortune Parks Hotel Ltd.

“Tourists want protected travel that guards them against any disease. So hygiene is highly important,” he added.

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