The biennial meet's ninth edition, to be held in Kochi by September end, will see the biggest-ever delegate contingent from 10 prized traditional markets including the US, Canada and Australia.
The new participants include China, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Georgia, Chile, Greece, Iran and Botswana. As many as 57 countries and 20 Indian states will explore tourism opportunities in 'God's Own Country' at the three-day event organised by the Kerala Travel Mart Society in association with the state government's Department of Tourism.
The number of registered international delegates attending KTM 2016, to be inaugurated on September 27 -- World Tourism Day, has swelled to 560, organisers said in a release here. Domestic participation has been buoyed as well with around 1,300 domestic buyers expected to participate this year.
"The KTM has always placed as much emphasis on the identification of quality buyers from new countries as on retaining participation levels from conventional markets. With 10 new nations confirmed to participate this year, our efforts have borne fruit," KTM Society President Abraham George said.
"Moreover, the increase in registrations from the 10 conventional markets including United States, Canada and Australia is further proof of the KTM's growing profile," he added.
An array of products, services and packages from around 261 sellers including hotels, resorts, houseboats, Ayurveda resorts, homestays and tour operators, will be showcased at the event, which will run till September 30 at the Samudrika and Sagara Convention Centre on Willingdon Island, Kochi.
KTM will witness 25,000 business meetings apart from other non-scheduled meetings. The mart is designed to facilitate B2B networking and interactions among travel industry professionals and entrepreneurs from Kerala and across the world, thereby providing a vehicle for business linkages between the state's tourism fraternity and the international travel market.
Organisers said KTM 2016 will focus on the themes of 'Responsible Tourism' and the 'Muziris and Spice Route'.
In an attempt to promote the 'Muziris and Spice Route' theme, UNESCO together with Kerala Tourism and the Union Tourism ministry will host a 'Spice Route Culinary Festival' from September 23-26, in which leading chefs from the 31 member countries on the historic Spice Route will participate. The event is organised as a prelude to the Mart.