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Saturday, 27 February, 2021, 12 : 00 PM [IST]

KTM Virtual 2021 meet to be held from March 1 to March 5

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the March 1-5 virtual Kerala Travel Mart 2021 (KTM), an event hat will give an aggressive push to the state’s tourism that suffered a huge blow in the wake of the COVID pandemic but is now showing signs of resurgence.

This is for the first time that the event, which ensures a stellar convergence of domestic and foreign buyers in the vital sector, is being held virtually and in strict observance of the pandemic protocols.

Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran will chair the inaugural function at the Uday Palace Convention Centre at Kowdiar in the heart of the city on February 28 at 7.30 pm. Finance Minister Dr T M Thomas Isaac will be the chief guest at the ceremony being organised by KTM Society, which is India’s biggest organisation in the travel and tourism segment.

“The virtual event of KTM is an innovative approach to overcome the present crises. It is also a major step for the rejuvenation and revival of tourism sector,” Shri Surendran said at a press conference here on Friday.  
KTM will facilitate domestic and foreign buyers to hold online interactions with sellers. As many as 40,000 meetings are scheduled between the buyers and exhibitors during the five days. The prime aim is to restore the pace of growth of tourism that has been affected for a year owing to the outbreak of the global pandemic.

Present at the inaugural function will be Thiruvananthapuram Mayor Kum Arya Rajendran. S; Dr Shashi Tharoor, MP; Adv V K Prasanth, MLA; Shri M. Vijayakumar, Chairman, KTDC; Kerala Tourism Principal Secretary Rani George, IAS; Director V R Krishna Teja, IAS; Municipal Corporation Member Smt S Sathikumari; KTM Society President Baby Mathew Somatheeram and Secretary Jose Pradeep, besides former presidents of KTM Society.

Somatheeram said that around 600 sellers, 500 foreign buyers and 1,500 tour operators will be part of the event. He also added that KTM has made itself the high-end virtual platform for the event. 
Rani George, IAS; Shri Krishna Teja, IAS; and Shri E.M. Najeeb, President, Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry (CKTI), were also present at the press meet.
The event will showcase the various alluring products and services of the state’s tourism sector. It will also display Kerala’s resilient spirit in tourism. Further, it aims to function as a springboard that can inspire confidence in the various stakeholders. 

The deliberations would strive to chart out ways that can help the sector lessen the losses owing to the COVID-19 and its lingering effects.
Already, the government’s measures against the pandemic have won Kerala appreciation from across the globe. In fact, steps to strengthen the inflow of tourists have started showing positive results with a surge in travellers in the past four months. Sticking to the pandemic protocol, the state’s tourism department has been working in association with the hotels, resorts and home stays.

Also, the government has rolled out a INR 455-crore relief package for both the entrepreneurs and employees/workers in tourism. The state-level bankers’ committee gives loans up to INR 25 lakh to entrepreneurs in tourism. The government is paying half of the interest amount for the first year.
Further, Kerala Bank gives loans between INR 20,000 and INR 30,000 to those employed in the tourism sector. The beneficiaries need to pay only 3 per cent interest, as the government pays the rest 6 per cent as subsidies.
The authorities are giving INR 10,000 each as a one-time relief amount to 328 guides accredited with the tourism departments of the state and Central governments. Grants up to INR 1.25 lakh are being distributed for the maintenance of houseboats. The commercial tax, which the local administration department was collecting from home stays, has been retained as house tax to the relief of the hospitality industry.
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