More buyers to Kerala Travel Mart this year

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New Delhi, Jul 4: Kerala Travel Mart, the biennial event showcasing the best of the ''God's Own Country,'' will be held at Kochi during September 20-23.

As many as 750 buyers and sellers have already registered to attend the only tourism mart in the sub-continent that brings together the business fraternity and entrepreneurs behind the tourism products and services of the state, Kerala Tourism Director M Sivasankar said at a ''Kerala Tourism Road Show'' at Hotel Taj Palace last night.

''The travel mart will present the international travel and tourism trade with the perfect opportunity to make fresh contacts, strike deals and discover new realms of success,'' he said.

Similar road shows are being organized in the cities of Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai to increase the number of domestic tourists visiting the state.

Mr Sivasankar said the second edition of the ''Grand Kerala Shopping Festival'' will be held from December 1, 2008 to January 15, 2009. A sum of Rs 20 crore had been earmarked in the budget for the festival.

Mr Sivasankar told the leaders of the travel and trade industry that the ''Dream Season'' holiday package had been a grand success in the first year of its introduction in 2007.

The package is targeted at the domestic holidaymakers offering them good rates during the off season months of April-September. The rates and new packages for the Dream Season-2008 had been hosted on the tourism department's website www.keralatourism.org/dreamseason.

Mr Sivasankar said Kochi had been selected as a stopover port for the Volvo Ocean Race, the world's premier off-shore yacht race, in December this year. Starting from Alicante in Spain on October 4 this year, it will for the first time, take in ports in Asia. Spanning some 37,000 nautical miles, stopping at around 11 ports, including Kochi, and taking nine months to complete, the Volvo Ocean Race is the world's premier yacht race for professional racing crews.

''The Volvo Ocean Race will enhance Kochi's standing as the hub of leisure sailing and cruising, thus adding up to its image as an exciting destination and inspiring more tourist arrivals to Kerala,'' Mr Sivasankar said.

He said the state registered a remarkable increase in domestic and international tourists during 2007. While international arrivals recorded a significant 20.37 per cent increase in 2007 over the previous year's figure of 600,000, the domestic tourist arrivals marked a 5.92 per cent increase over about six million.

Foreign Exchange earnings for the year 2007 was Rs 2640.94 crores, a record growth of 32.82 per cent over the previous year.

UNI

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