Published on : Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Travel And Tour World communicates with P. Bala Kiran, Director, Kerala Tourism in an exclusive conversation at ITB Berlin 2018.
Mr. Kiran discusses about the crucial target tourism markets of Kerala as well as their interesting tourism plans for the year ahead, like their aims to focus on promoting Kerala as an adventure tourism destination.
Travel And Tour World: Since we are in ITB, one of the best international trade shows I understand Europe is one of your main target markets.
Bala Kiran: Yes, Europe is definitely one of our main target markets. And, Berlin has traditionally been among the top three source markets of Kerala. This is due to the fact that from Berlin, France and UK, bulk of tourists come from now so it is quite close to our heart and currently it has risen to about 16,000 to 17,000 visitors arriving from Berlin and Germany to Kerala every year and we wish to double it up by 2021.
The main market outside Germany is the UK as around 17% or 18% people from the UK, US, Saudi, France and Germany that comprise our top six markets.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about your plans for 2018.
Bala Kiran: In 2018 we have been planning the entire rebranding of our marketing campaign as we are actually targeting to position Kerala in different ways after the great backwaters campaign. Hopefully it will happen within the next financial year. Then we also want to position Kerala with new tourism products as it has been a leisure tourist destination particularly, for many years. So, from now onwards we would also like to promote Kerala as the land of adventures, activities, Yoga and of course leisure tourism.
Travel And Tour World: What are your plans to for the regional MICE industry?
Bala Kiran: Once again, MICE again comes under the new tourism products in Kerala, so now we have started concentrating majorly on adventure and MICE as well and we have our biggest convention centre in Kochi. Kerala government is interested in developing MICE tourism with new changes in MICE tourism policies and MICE will surely benefit from such modifications.
Travel And Tour World: Tell me something about the new convention centre you just spoke about, for instance how many people it can accommodate?
Bala Kiran: I do not have the details as it is yet to be started and it will be starting in April 2018 but I am certain that it will be one of the largest convention centres in southern India.
Travel And Tour World: Are you promoting any new destination in your State?
Bala Kiran: Yes, traditionally south Kerala has been world famous for its tourism potential it accounts for 90% of the entire domestic and international traffic. But since we want to double the tourist arrivals we believe that if everybody comes to this circuit only, it might take a toll on nature and leave an impact on the environment. Therefore we are also planning to develop the northern part of Kerala and also focusing on marketing North Kerala, especially its virgin beaches.
Travel And Tour World: Beside international, what about the domestic tourism market?
Bala Kiran: Domestic tourist arrivals is our bread and butter. And I think domestic travel will drive tourism in India for a long time.
Travel And Tour World: Which are the new states boasting of highest visitors to Kerala?
Bala Kiran: The main states are Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Delhi, Gujarat but other states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan also coming up in this regard.
Travel And Tour World: Talking of international connections how many international airports do you have?
Bala Kiran: Here we have three international airports presently, namely Calicut, Kochi and Trivandrum. Mangalore is heavily used by us in Kerala too, and we are now constructing an international airport at Kannur which is going to be the focal center of tourism in Kerala.