India’s first initiative of promoting tourism in a state by bringing together stakeholders of the sector under one umbrella was successful with the formation of the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society in the beginning of the 21st century. With the objective of promoting tourism in Kerala to the domestic and international markets, the Society launched the biennial KTM—an extended marketing arm of Kerala Tourism and an internationally-acclaimed travel and tourism mart in India—in Kochi, Ernakulam district in 2000. This initiative was immensely supported with the joint collaboration of like-minded tourism industry stakeholders from private and public institutions, including Kerala Tourism, since traditional marketing activities of the state, such as roadshows and trade fairs, were not very profitable. Dr Venu Vasudevan, who was then Director Tourism, Kerala, and now Vice Chancellor, National Museum Institute and Director General, National Museum, New Delhi, had proposed this initiative to promote Kerala as a standalone tourism destination. “Our vision was to create a unique tourism collaboration that would be a model for other states,” he said.
The founding members of the Mart were E M Najeeb, Chairman & Managing Director, Air Travel Enterprises (ATE) Group of Companies; Jose Dominic, Managing Director and CEO, CGH Earth; George Dominic, Executive Editor, CGH Earth; P D Joseph, Proprietor, Pioneer Travels, and T Balakrishnan, Secretary, Kerala Tourism. Later, Mathew Philip was appointed as CEO, KTM Society.
Year of Inception & Beyond
With the launch of the Mart, the year 2000 marks a significant period for travel and tourism stakeholders in Kerala. The purpose was to offer a common platform to showcase the unique travel and tourism products and destinations of Kerala. Although KTM was started with the aim of projecting Kerala as a stand-alone destination, the focus soon shifted to promoting the event as a leading South Indian travel mart. This plan was evident in the subsequent editions of the Mart, which saw increasing participation of the other South Indian states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The first six editions of KTM were organised at Le Meridien Convention Centre, Kochi. In 2010, the venue was changed to Bolgatty Palace, Kochi, and this year, the event is being held at Samudrika Convention Centre, Willingdon Island, Kochi. Key Trends
The number of buyers and sellers attending KTM has been on a consistent rise ever since its launch 14 years ago. This, along with the state tourism board’s aggressive marketing strategies, has helped place Kerala on the global tourism map.
In 2000, over 500 buyers attended the Mart. KTM had attracted 570 buyers and 160 sellers in 2002. It witnessed the attendance of 850 buyers and 120 sellers in 2004, with participation from Japan, China, Egypt, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Serbia, etc.
The edition in 2006 had 470 international and 670 domestic buyers in attendance, with 194 sellers participating. While inaugurating KTM 2006, V S Achuthanandan, then Chief Minister of Kerala, said the state was emerging as a preferred destination for tourists, from not just within India, but also across the globe. “The state government visualises tourism as not merely a profit-making enterprise, but also as a medium to convey the cultural effervescence of the people. The industry should develop to provide jobs, not in cities and towns alone, but also in the remote rural areas of the state as well,” he had stated.
Number of Buyers
KTM 2014 Objectives
KTM 2014 (Expected)
Motivated by the stupendous success of the previous editions, KTM Society is inspired to take this year’s event to the next level with new objectives. “Kerala Tourism associates with KTM Society to host this mega event, bringing together business entrepreneurs behind the tourism products and services of the state on a single platform. It will facilitate meetings and interactions of buyers, sellers and the media. Tour operators, hotels, resorts, homestays, houseboats, Ayurveda resorts, cultural art centres, etc., will showcase their products at the Mart,” said Suman Billa, Secretary, Tourism, Govt. of Kerala.
KTM 2014 will reach out to buyers from new markets like Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, and USA. Moreover, the quality of the event will also be improved this year, with focus on innovative tourism products like village-life experience, culture tours, and destination wedding themes. KTM 2014 will also feature the Hosted Buyer Programme, which is a unique component that provides buyers an opportunity to meet with exhibitors for one-to-one sessions, informed Johny Abraham George, President, KTM Society.