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Messe Berlin: ITB (Internationale Tourismus Borse) 2017, the world’s largest travel trade fair, got underway here at Messe Berlin on Wednesday.

The formidable Kerala presence at Hall 5.2 is being led by D Balamurali IAS, Additional Director, Kerala Tourism and Managing Director, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC).

The Kerala Pavilion, always a head-turner, has been conceived by Stark Communications. It is decked up with three massive chundan valloms (traditional Kerala row boats) and a giant well-lit backdrop of the legendary boat races on Kerala backwaters.

The Kerala Pavilion has 12 trade partners this time, a tad lower than usual: Among hotels and resorts, we have Abad Hotels & Resorts (Jibran Asif), Kumarakom Lake Resort (Shelley Thayil and Medhavi Pande), Nikki’s Nest (Maria Jacob), Poetree Sarovar Portico (R Ravi Varma), Poovar Island Resort (M R Narayanan), The Travancore Heritage (Chacko Paul and Pradeep Narayanan) and Udaya Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel & Spa (Ramesh Kumar).

Dravidian Trails Holidays (Sitaram Swaminathan) is the sole tour operator at the Kerala Pavilion. Four Ayurveda resorts also form part of the trade delegation – Anandaniketan Ayurveda Resort (Sameer Thajudeen and John Kurayil Chacko), Ayurvedamana (Sajeev Kurup V), Beach & Lake Ayurvedic Resort (Murukesan and J Sisupalan) and Sitaram Ayurveda Beach Retreat (Dr. R Vignesh Devraj MD).

Many tourism organisations from Kerala have set up individual booths and even formed collaborative partnerships to present their offerings at ITB. Within hall 5.2, the other major Kerala players attending are Nattika Beach Ayurveda Resort (Ranjith Mathew and Joseph Kodoth), CGH Earth Experience Hotels (George Dominic), Somatheeram Ayurvedic Health Resort Kovalam (Jaison Pauly Arampankudy and Suresh John Jacob), Pioneer Personalised Holidays (Ranju Joseph) and Somatheeram Ayurveda Group (Baby Mathew).

Collaborative partnerships showcasing this time are Spiceland Holidays led by U C Riyaz (including Devonshire Greens Munnar (Ronny Mathew Eapen), Holiday Vista (Praveen V), Lakes & Lagoons Backwater Experiences (V C Zachariah) and Punarnava Ayurvedic Hospital (Dr. A M Anwar); Tattva Tourism Solutions managed by Mili Sham Wittmann (including Rainbow Cruises, Carnoustie Ayurveda and Wellness Resort (Urvashi Mehta), Fragrant Nature (Joseph Skaria) and Neeleshwar Hermitage & The Lotus Houseboats (Pooja Nataraj); The Southern Collective (including Anantya (Lavanya Ramachandran), Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society president Abraham George’s Intersight Tours & Travels powered South Indian Trails (including Carmelia Haven Plantation Resort & Spa Vandanmedu (Scaria Jose), Crowne Plaza Kochi (Shuvendu Banerjee and Dileep Kumar), Chandy’s Hotels Resorts Munnar (Bijnu Jacob Kuriachan), Eastern Hotels & Resorts Munnar (Rajesh Nair) and Vythiri Village Wayanad (Prasad Manjali) and Window to Luxury (including Isola Di Cocco Ayurvedic Beach Resort Poovar (Dr. Xavier Mathew and Niseedh R) and Vythiri Resort Wayanad (Roy Chacko) and Amritara Private Hideaways led by Manish Palicha (including Shalimar Spice Garden Thekkady).

The India Pavilion was formally inaugurated by Suman Billa IAS, Joint Secretary, India Tourism and Gurjit Singh, Indian Ambassador to Germany on March 8 at 10 am.

At the India Pavilion we have Kerala properties like Vasundhara Sarovar Premiere Cherthala (Anand Nair), The Zuri Kumarakom (Gopakumar M) and Kadappuram Beach Resort Nattika (Gopalakrishnan Maimbilly).

Destination Kerala‘s special ITB 2017 issue showcasing Wayanad was unveiled at the Kerala Pavilion on Wednesday by D Balamurali IAS, Abraham George and George Dominic. Destination Kerala is the sole media organisation from Kerala at ITB this year.

While footfalls are less compared to previous years, pre-scheduled meetings with business providers are keeping Kerala players busy through the day.

Please check back for updates on new launches at ITB 2017 as well as bytes from participants representing Kerala.