The eighth edition of the Kerala Travel Mart, KTM 2014, concluded with, more than the expected response from all the participants, both Buyers and Sellers, in general. The three day long mart, which is the largest B2B Tourism meet in India was conducted at Samudrika Convention Centre, Willingdon Island, Cochin. 75,000 sq ft , single level venue was spruced up with all the facilities for a mega mart.
The sprawling lobby highlighted the village life in Kerala as well as the State as a wedding destination. KTM 2014 had stalls of different categories which totalled 246. The entire lot was sold in a record time of two days. The Sellers included Adventure Tour Operators, Ayurveda Centres, Ayurvedic Resorts, Hotels, Homestays, Amusement Park, Convention Centres, Hotel Management Consultants, Houseboats, Resorts, speciality Hospitals, Museums, Travel & Tour Operators and more.
861 domestic buyers from various corners of India and 241 international buyers from 45 countries attended the Mart . An expected 40,000 buyer- seller appointments took place during the three days of the event. While UK, Germany, France, Malaysia, and USA topped the countries with the maximum participants, new markets like Singapore, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, and Brazil had their buyers too for the meet.
The three- day Travel Mart witnessed hectic schedules comprising of seminars and brain storming discussions among the tourism industry fraternity of Kerala and from around the globe. Some of the key issues faced by the tourism industry came up and valuable suggestions were put forward by the experts
The governments in the state and the centre were urged to keep clear and long term policies to enhance the sustainable growth of the tourism industry. While proposing an innovative PPP model development plan for the tourism sector, the meet appealed to the governments to initiate long term progressive outlook for the way ahead for Kerala tourism.
Experts applauded Kerala’s responsible tourism model being successfully implemented in key tourism destinations in the state. The industry urged the stake holders to take urgent measures to roll out of such responsible tourism projects in other selected destinations in the state immediately. Majority of the opinion makers of the tourism industry stressed the need for promoting responsible tourism models with assured participation from the local community.
The Travel industry overwhelmingly welcomed the prestigious spice route project which connect 31 countries and featuring heritage important destinations and experiences. The Kerala tourism stall at the mart exhibition showcased and could convince the meticulous planning behind the product. Individual destination experiences like heritage rich Muziris along the spice route evoked immense curiosity among the buyers. The travel mart listed out products like cruise tourism as a potential area in the coming future.
KTM 2014 made a major turning point by bringing focus on wide spread product innovations to suit newer markets and target groups. The Mart consolidated the existing possibilities of Kerala’s product features and evolved focused products to show case in front of the potential buyers. Village tourism was positioned as a prime focus product in the Mart this time and derived huge response from the visiting buyers. The venue of the Mart was set in a village ambience with artists and artisans demonstrating their activities. The idea was to create the feel of a real village and share lifestyle experiences. The Kerala Travel Mart 2014 proved successful in projecting Kerala as a viable Wedding Destination . The visiting buyers had a clear understanding of our professional wedding plan capabilities to serve a memorable wedding function for high net worth travelers. Similar to wedding tourism in hosting group arrivals to Kerala, international MICE has been identified as a key potential product type during the mart.The mart also witnessed a quality debate on Ayurveda as a product in the changing market . Experts brought the attention to quality packages in Ayurveda for the affluent travelers. Many suggestions and experiences were shared in the areas of researches and accreditations in the field of Ayurveda.
The Mart witnessed serious concerns at the new excise policy announced by the government and urged the policy makers to adopt positive steps to evolve a tourism friendly liquor policy in the state. Mr. Girish Shankar IAS, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India,who visited the Mart and exchanged ideas with his counter parts in Kerala and the Organizers of the Travel Mart, expressed happiness at the quality conduct of the event. The three day Mart was followed by post mart FAM tours for the buyers who made use of the opportunity to visit destinations across Kerala. After a fruitful gathering of the who is who of the tourism industry in the world, the participants returned with a promise to meet again in 2016 with a renewed resolve to take the tourism industry in Kerala to newer heights.