Travel And Tour World’s Editor Mr. Apratim Ghoshal engages in a candid interaction with Mr. K. S. Srinivas, IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism Kerala at ITB Berlin 2023. Mr. Srinivas highlights the initiatives of Kerala Tourism to promote inbound tourism in the international market. He also talks about Kerala as one of the foremost Indian states to prosper in responsible tourism.
ITB Berlin 2023: Exclusive Interview of K.S. Srinivas, IAS, Principal Secretary- Tourism, Kerala
Travel And Tour World: After 4 years ITB, how do you feel?
S. Srinivas: Well, this is my first time at ITB because I joined the department 1 year back. This is happening after a gap of 3 years. I am very happy to be here and see such a huge exhibition which is attended by exhibitors from all over the world. I am very happy that Kerala is putting up a very big stall here. Many other states have come and many people are visiting our stall.
Travel And Tour World: Besides Germany which are your target markets for inbound tourism?
S. Srinivas: Traditionally our main market has always been the UK. We would like to consolidate our UK market and keep our market share with the UK and others. Apart from the UK, Germany is another big market for us. A lot of people travel to Kerala for Ayurveda tourism, wellness tourism and we would like to get more and more tourists from Germany. Apart from these two markets, we are also looking for more tourists from the US, Australia, China and the Middle East.
Travel And Tour World: What about the connectivity in terms of international airports? How many airports do you have and what kind of airlines land there?
S. Srinivas: We have 4 international airports in Kerala although we are a small state. We have airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin, Calicut and Kannur. They are international airports in the real sense of the word. We operate flights especially to the Gulf countries and all countries too. There are many flights from these countries.
Travel And Tour World: Do you have any statistics of inbound tourist in terms of international as well as within the country?
S. Srinivas: Within the country it has surpassed the 2019 figures and more than a crore now. More than a crore people have visited domestically. Internationally, we are yet to touch the 2019 mark of 11 lakhs people. I think we are able to touch 50% now and within a year we will be able to surpass the 2019 figure.
Travel And Tour World: Do you have any prospective plan for sustainable tourism?
S. Srinivas: We are very strong in responsible tourism and I can say we are one of the first states in the country to start responsible tourism way back in 2008. I am sure the tourists who are coming to Kerala are able to enjoy the village life; they are able to integrate with the local community so that the local community will get some more income and so many advantages are there. We are very happy that moment has caught on and we have received more than 13 awards. From the WTM we also received a global award for responsible tourism. We have conducted a global summit in Kumarakom in the Kottayam district recently. We are taking this ahead and many of our hotels and resorts are also equally interested to take this movement far.
Travel And Tour World: Beyond Kerala do you promote any more destinations to attract tourists?
S. Srinivas: Kerala means people think about Thekkady, Munnar, Kovalam, Kumarakom and others. But some of these places are becoming saturated. They are facing a problem of over tourism also in one or two places. We are looking into new places like Baikal which is a new place. Similar to that, we have to go to Idukky which has a big dam there and we can do dam related activities. Places like Tirumala are in our consideration for ecotourism. We have to diversify into different areas and that is what we are planning to do in the Kerala Tourism 2.0 version.