Kerala FM urges to have tri-continental tour packages

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Kochi, Sep 21 (UNI) Stressing the common linkages of history and culture among India, Brazil and South Africa, Kerala Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac today said the three countries should come up with tri-continental tour packages to promote tourism among them.

Inaugurating an 'IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) Tour Operators Workshop', as part of the ongoing fifth Kerala Travel Mart here, Mr Issac said there was a possibility for deep cooperation among the three countries.

Lauding the setting up of the IBSA trilateral forum five years ago, the minister said it had become necessary for the three countries, each one a regional leader, to come together to press their interests and those of the other developing countries in multilateral fora such as the UN and WTO.

Union Tourism Ministry Joint Secretary Leena Nandan said India had signed bilateral tourism promotion agreements with both Brazil and South Africa. A tripartite agreement on tourism promotion would be signed during the IBSA summit in New Delhi next month, she added.

Stating that India was a great potential market, Ms Nandan said nearly 8.34 million Indians went overseas last year, which was much more than the five million foreign arrivals to the country.

As per the World Tourism Organisation, outbound travel by Indians was estimated to reach 50 million by 2020, she added.

Stating that India received few visitors from Brazil and South Africa, she said only 10,000 Brazilians and 46,000 South Africans toured the country last year.

Expressing his happiness that the Kerala Travel Mart had been chosen as a platform by the Ministry of External Affairs to organise the workshop, Kerala Tourism Secretary V Venu said this was the first time that an initiative had been taken to promote three-way tourism amog India, Brazil and South Africa.

Carlos Rebeiro Santana, an official of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, and Zukiswa Nkhereanye, Deputy Director, Department of Environment and Tourism, South Africa were, among others, present on the occasion.

Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) President Vijay Thakur said only a little over 1,600 Indians visited Brazil last year while over 51,000 travelled to South Africa.

Mr Thakur stressed the need to improve the air connectivity among the three countries and also liberalise the visa requirements.

Nearly 25 tour operators from South Africa and Brazil and several IATO membes attended the workshop.

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