Berlin: Kerala Tourism has kick-started the promotion of its new video campaign, Human by Nature, in Europe at ITB Berlin 2019. P Bala Kiran IAS, Director, Kerala Tourism, who led the State’s delegation to the event, said Kerala is evolving as a niche destination by focussing on promoting its humanscapes more than landscapes. “Our village life experiences and stories of local people will be at the forefront of our new campaign. Instead of celebrating the numbers of national and international travellers visiting the State, the attempt here has been to celebrate the human life, nature, culture and heritage of the State,’’ he said.
ITB Berlin 2019 saw Kerala Tourism unveiling its new promotional narrative 'Human by Nature’ apart from fairly good representation from the State
The Kerala Tourism pavilion had 12 sellers which included Anandalakshmi Ayurveda Retreat (Chowara), Ayur Bethaniya (Thrissur), B'Canti Boutique Beach Resort (Varkala), Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty (Kochi), Nikki’s Nest (Chowara), The Paul Resorts & Hotels (Kumarakom), Poovar Island Resort (Poovar), Raviz Hotels & Resorts (Kovalam), Sitaram Ayurveda Beach Retreat (Thrissur), Sree Chithra Ayurveda (Thrissur), Xandari Resorts (Kochi) and Dravidian Trails (Kochi).
Other sellers from Kerala included The Nattika Beach Ayurveda Resort (Thrissur), Joys Resorts and Hotels (Thrissur), Somatheeram Ayurveda Group (Kovalam), Somatheeram Ayurvedic Health Resort (Kovalam), CGH Earth Experience Hotels (Kochi), The Blue Yonder (Kochi) and Kadappuram Beach Resort (Thrissur). Besides, two consortiums of sellers from Kerala also put up stalls. The South India Trails pavilion comprised hotels such as Vythiri Village (Wayanad), Lakesong Resort (Kumarakom), Crowne Plaza (Kochi), Carmelia Haven Resorts (Thekkady) and Chandy’s Windy Woods (Munnar). Kochi-based Spiceland Holidays & Entertainments, one of the largest B2B Holiday Consolidators for India and Sri Lanka, also teamed up with various hotel chains for the event.
Though the sellers were generally satisfied with the efforts by Kerala Tourism to sell the destination, some of them have made a few suggestions as well which included a change in the design of the pavilion. Since 2017, Kerala has been following the same design, themed around backwaters and houseboats.
Speaking to Destination Kerala, Baby Mathew Somatheeram, President of Kerala Travel Mart (KTM)Society and MD, Somatheeram Ayurveda Group, stressed the need for conducting B2C meetings in India and abroad as well as undertaking aggressive promotional campaigns in the media. “Post the August 2018 floods there is an impression among tourists worldwide that Kerala has been terribly hit. Travel agents, by now, are aware that things are normal in Kerala. But we have to reach out to the consumers. For this, we have to plan B2C interactions in the coming days. Also, we have to make sure senior leaders of Kerala Tourism meet international mediapersons and convince them about the ground realities,’’ he said.
Maria Jacob of Nikki’s Nest, Chowara aired her concerns about the poor management of Kerala's tourism destinations. “Just like we do marketing, there has to be a concerted effort to maintain our destinations clean for the industry to sustain. Now the situation is pathetic. Unless we do something urgently and effectively, tourists will avoid Kerala in the long run no matter how much money we spent on promotions,’’ she said.
Joseph Kodath, Director, The Nattika Beach Ayurveda Resort urged the Union Government to ease procedures for obtaining visa. “The introduction of e-visa is a welcome move. Still, there are so many grey areas in the process which foreign tourists, especially senior citizens who are coming for Ayurveda treatments, are finding difficult to grapple with. This is affecting us,’’ said Joseph, referring to the recent decision taken by the Sri Lankan Government to waive visa fee for tourists from the European Union from April 2019 onwards. Of late, Kerala is facing a tough competition from Sri Lanka, which also promotes Ayurveda in a big way.
Dileep Kumar P I, General Manager of The Leela Raviz Kovalam, presented a new tourism circuit, the Copper Plate Circuit, at ITB Berlin 2019 connecting Madurai, Thenkasi, Shencottai, Kollam and Kovalam. “I have recreated the ancient trade route wherein the Manigramam, large guild of merchants, travelled for trade during the Chola period in the 9th century AD. In this circuit, we have identified 46 amazing experiences, including temples, culinary tradition and village tours,’’ he said.
Yogendra Tripathi IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism; Ravneet Kaur, CMD, ITDC; Ram Subhag Singh IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Himachal Pradesh; Meenakshi Sharma, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism and Paramita Tripathi, DCM, Embassy of India visited Kerala Tourism pavilion.
P Bala Kiran IAS launched Destination Kerala’s ITB Berlin special issue in the presence of Abraham George, MD, Intersight Holidays and Athul Lal A G, Director & Executive Editor, Destination Kerala.