KERALA TOURISM PINS HOPES ON ATM TO RAMP-UP WANING SOURCE MARKET
Thiruvananthapuram: A high-octane participation at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2019, to be held in Dubai from April 28 to May 1, 2019 has become all the more important for Kerala Tourism with the State witnessing a considerable dip in tourist arrivals from the Middle East in 2018. According to latest statistics, in 2018, Kerala recorded a 24.51 per cent dip in tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia, which is the fifth biggest source market for the State, compared to 2017. While the FTAs from Oman showed a decline of 18.28 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017, the number of tourists from the UAE decreased by 21.39 per cent. The scenario is no different in terms of FTAs from Kuwait and Bahrain, a decline of 37.76 per cent and 20.09 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, FTAs from Qatar increased to 6596 in 2018 from 4448 in 2017.
As yet another ATM approaches, Kerala Tourism has its work cut out with tourist arrivals from the Middle East showing a decline, necessitating intense promotional drive. Kerala is rolling up its sleeves to woo tourists
The devastating floods that hit the State in August 2018, coupled with Nipah virus outbreak and law and order problems caused by the Supreme Court verdict permitting young women to enter Sabarimala temple can be attributed to this bad show by God’s Own Country. However, it is important to note that FTAs from the Western countries registered a positive growth. FTAs from the UK, which is the top source market for Kerala, showed an increase of 11.21 per cent. While FTAs from the US grew by 3.84 per cent, visitors from France and Germany showed an increase of 15.28 per cent and 5.67 per cent respectively.
Apparently, it becomes highly important for the State Government to examine the exact reasons behind the sharp decline in FTAs from the Gulf region. Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran himself is leading the State’s delegation to ATM 2019, it is learnt. While going for print, the Department of Tourism is yet to finalise the list of participants to the event.
Meanwhile, P Bala Kiran IAS, Director, Kerala Tourism, in a recent interview, told media persons that the State is expecting a substantial jump in tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia as a result of the MEA’s decision to extend e-visa facilities to Saudi nationals. “Moreover, Kerala Tourism will conduct a major promotional campaign involving roadshows in the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in May-June. Kerala Tourism’s new brand campaign, Human by Nature, will be the highlight of the events,” he said.
‘Human by Nature’
Replacing the nine-year-old brand campaign, Your Moment is Waiting, Kerala Tourism recently unveiled its new global brand campaign – Human by Nature, in New Delhi recently. Celebrating both people and nature equally in a seamless fashion, the three-minute-long film, conceived and scripted by Stark Communications, encapsulates the way of life of the people, the inclusiveness, peace and harmony in the State.
Minister Surendran said: “It is a pioneering move to use ordinary local people like fishermen, boatmen, schoolchildren etc. as heroes when destinations are running after celebrities and brand ambassadors for endorsements. We have always taken the route less travelled, be it products, marketing strategies or promotional tools. The modern travellers are ‘experience seekers’ and ‘authenticity’ is important for them. Therefore, our campaign stresses a lot on authentic experiences than mere products.”
Medical Value Travel (MVT)
Taking a cue from the success of Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society, the NABH-accredited healthcare providers of the State, in 2015, mooted the idea of Kerala Medical Value Travel Society (KMVTS) in association with the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC). However, the movement has lost steam and even after four years, KMVTS has hardly made any headway. Currently, the State has around three dozen NABH-accredited hospitals. But there is a paucity of data regarding the number of international visitors seeking treatment in Kerala and the income generated through it. Apparently, the upcoming edition of Kerala Health Tourism (KHT) 2019, to be held under the aegis of CII Kerala in July, assumes much importance and is expected to ensure greater synergy among stakeholders to attract MVT traffic to Kerala. “This can be done effectively only with the support of the government, which will have to come forward as a facilitator, marketing the State’s healthcare products and services in whichever way they can,” said E M Najeeb, Executive Director, KIMS Healthcare Group.
The number of Indian visitors travelling to the GCC over the coming five years will create an extra 10.8 million room nights, according to data published ahead of ATM 2019. The latest research published by Colliers International predicts that around nine million Indians will travel to the GCC by 2022 – 37 per cent of India’s total outbound market – with business, place of work and leisure underpinning this demand.
Indian outbound tourists accounted for 22.5 million worldwide tourists in 2018, with reports from the UNWTO estimating that this figure will increase by 122 per cent to reach over 50 million by 2022. Adding to this, Indian tourists are among the world’s highest spenders per visit made abroad, with visitor spend expected to increase from $23 billion in 2018 to $45 billion by 2022.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, ATM said, “The Indian outbound market has continued to grow at an average annual growth rate of 10-12 per cent over the last seven years.”
In 2017, the UAE welcomed 2.3 million Indian tourists, accounting for 13 per cent of its total annual visitors, and this figure is expected to increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7 per cent to 2022. Saudi Arabia will also experience a comparative growth of 7 per cent – while Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain – will all witness an increase of 6 per cent between 2018 and 2022. Curtis said, “The influx of Indian visitors to the GCC shows no sign of abating. Supporting this demand, from the UAE alone, there are currently 1065 weekly flights to India corresponding to 1,30,000 seats per week. Meanwhile, bilateral talks for increasing airline frequency between India and all GCC countries are continuing.”
As per yet another study, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could increase hotel revenues by over 10 per cent and reduce costs by more than 15 per cent – with hotel operators expecting technology such as voice and facial recognition, virtual reality and biometrics to be mainstream by 2025. Research estimates that 73 per cent of manual activities in the hospitality industry have the technical potential for automation, with many global hotel operators, including Marriott, Hilton and Accor already investing in automating elements of their human resources.
ATM 2019 had adopted cutting-edge technology and innovation as its main theme. In the 2018 edition, ATM welcomed over 39,000 people, showcasing the largest exhibition in the history of the show.