A second wave of Covid-19 and the ensuing restrictions can eliminate the tourism sector in Kerala, the industry’s captains and workers fear, announcing they will observe May 1 as Black Day to press the state government to resolve the grave issue.
The Tourism SamrakshanaSamithi, while noting that the segment was struggling even amid a stimulus package from the government, said the future looked bleaker with the prospects of massive job loss and shutdown of allied businesses.
Even those generating some revenue out of tourism are in dire straits, noted the umbrella body for 20 organisations. It will observe the Labour Day state-wide this time by wearing black masks, and further announce the grimness in the sector by carrying out a social media campaign with #SaveTourism as the hashtag.
Tourism has been a mainstay of the Kerala economy with the sector generating an income of Rs 44,000 crore annually and providing employment to 15 lakh people both directly and otherwise. For 14 months now, tourism in the state has been struggling to come out of the travails in the wake of the pandemic.
Towards October last year, tourism showed faint signs of improvement, but they weren’t enough to inspire confidence among the stakeholders in the sector. Many of them stared at big-time debt, attachment of property andmounting arrears in the payment of taxes and bills on water and power. Besides, extra expenses were incurred to meet the Covid-19 protocols.
Into February this year, Kerala topped the country’s list on Covid-positive patients, reducing the inflow of domestic tourists to a trickle. What’s more, other state governments imposed a law that necessitated a Covid-negative certificate from Kerala-returned tourists.
Amid the worsening situation, the second wave of Covid-19 currently led he administration to imposer further restrictions on travel. Of the 18,000 people who tested Covid-positive the other day, only 269 were from outside Kerala — and none of them in the state as tourists. Even so, none in the tourism sector has so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus, showing the earnestness of its workers in following the Covid-19 protocols.
The Samithi has proposed to the authorities to give all tourism workers immediate access to the vaccine against Covid-19. It wants the jobless to be provided Rs 5,000 a month, a package aiding the labour involved in tourism, exemption of taxes and fees for tourist vehicles and houseboats, moratorium on paying tax arrears, cancellation of KFC’s blood bank policy, remove the fixed charge on power for hotels and concession on bills. The organisation also sought the withdrawal of clamp on tourist movements, not make RTPCR testing compulsory for tourists visiting Kerala and returning, and a 24-month moratorium on GST.
The organisations under the Samithiwith Sudheesh Kumar as the convenor include Association of Tourism Trade Organisations (ATTOI), Confederation of Accredited Tour Operators (CATO), South Kerala Hoteliers Forum (SKHF), Kerala Tourism Protection and Development Council (KTPDC) and Kovalam Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA).
ITB India and Saudi Tourism Authority announce exclusive partnership
The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) and ITB India have announced Saudi as the Official Partner Country of ITB India 2021. The inaugural ITB India Virtual Event, being held on 7 - 9 April 2021, is an annual B2B trade show and conference specifically curated to build a bridge to the Indian and South Asian travel market. STA is responsible for raising awareness of Saudi, the authentic home of Arabia, as a destination. The organization is focused on developing partnerships with travel trade partners around the world, to expand the reach of Saudi’s tourism offer and to drive conversion in key source markets. The Saudi Tourism Authority is building a global community dedicated to driving awareness of Saudi as a unique tourism destination offering authentic Arabian experiences to cultural explorers from around the world, said Fahd Hamidaddin, Chief Executive Officer of STA. The destination’s wealth of heritage sites, its dynamic urban centers and the warm hospitality of the Saudi people make it a compelling destination for travelers seeking the new, unexpected stories that make a journey truly memorable. As the Official Partner Country of ITB India, Saudi Tourism Authority will showcase an array of current tourism offerings and destination highlights as well as the exciting new developments on the horizon. Tourism is a strategic industry for the future of Saudi Arabian and the country is the world’s largest investor in sustainable tourism infrastructure and offerings. Projects such as the Red Sea and Amaala are setting new global standards in the development and management of tourism in harmony with the natural world. And new sites like AlUla and Diriyah are offering visitors a hitherto unexplored insight into the rich cultural history of Arabia. Saudi offers Indian travelers a unique experience, grounded in Saudi hospitality and redolent of Arabian mystery, said Fahd Hamidaddin. Our partnership with ITB India is an important part of our long-term objective to engage, inspire, invite and delight Indian travelers to Saudi.
ITB India attendees will have an opportunity to visit Saudi Tourism Authority’s digital exhibition booth and arrange one-on-one meetings with STA representatives to learn more about the destination.0
March 25-29 drive aims to woo tourists in post-pandemic era
Kerala Tourism today launched a pioneering travel initiative led by ten influencers from around the country who will carry out a new-media campaign to attract domestic tourists in the post-Covid era.
Smt Rani George, IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism, flagged off the Kerala Blog Express, titled ‘My First Trip 2021’, which is slated to conclude on March 29.
The influencers will tread different itineraries for six nights and five days, facilitating production of exclusive contents for Kerala Tourism.The images, videos and literature generated by them will be shared on social-media platforms as #MyFirstTrip. They will announce to the world that destinations in God’s Own Country continue to be open for tourists.
Kerala Tourism Director Shri V.R. Krishna Teja, IAS, and Shri Biju. B.S, Deputy Director, Marketing, Kerala Tourism, were also present at the function held at the Hotel Mascot in the city.
“The trip will give the participants a chance to not just visit the famous tourist destinations in Kerala, but experience the cuisine, culture, art and other popular activities around,” Smt George said.
“Tourism industry was struck by the pandemic and Kerala was no exception. Gradually, we learned to live on with Covid-19. We started to see visitors coming to Kerala from November-December 2020. Now, these vloggers can also spread the word to the world that Kerala is safer to explore since Covid-19 cases are on the decline in the state. So, people would understand the situation,” she added.
Shri Teja, in his address, said that through the trip, the vloggers would certainly experience the warmth of people and understand how safe the state was to explore.
While the previous editions of the Kerala Blog Express had only international bloggers and social media influencers, My First Trip 2021 has only domestic influencers and aims to provide additional impetus to the current domestic marketing initiatives of Kerala.
‘My First Trip’ will take the influencers on a trip across various destinations in 10 specially branded cars, stipulating to the pandemic protocol in mind. The participants will follow five different itineraries around the state.
The destinations include the Jadayu Earth Center at Chadayamangalam in Kollam district, Thumboormuzhi Garden near Chalakudy in Thrissur district, Vazhachal, Athirapally waterfalls near it and the Malakkapara hill-station in the area.
The travellers will also experience village life at Munroe Island (Kollam) and nature walk along the bird sanctuary in Kumarakom (Kottayam) and a houseboat cruise there, besides visits to the Muziris Heritage project sites north of Kochi and a town walk through coastal Alappuzha. Other highlights are visits to the Punnamada lake, Marari beach, boating in the Periyar lake, Tea Museum in Idukki district, the dams at Kundala and Mattupetti and water sports at Cherai northwest of Kochi.
Four of the influencers are from Mumbai, three from Delhi and one each from Hyderabad (Telangana), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Ajmer (Rajasthan).0
Mrs. Bhagyashri Patrikar, a Science graduate and art enthusiast from Pune, has been bestowed with the title of ‘Mrs. Most Diligent’ in all India VPR Mrs. India grand finale hosted at Ahmedabad last week.
For the last two years, VPR has been organizing Mrs. India competition to provide an equal platform to the Indian married women, divorcees and widows. This year VPR flagged off the second edition of its competition with total 42 pageants been shortlisted from different Indian cities.
Bhagyashri Kuber Patrikar, a mother of two, Narayani and Kaustubh, represented Pune. She has been associated with top IT firms as Software Engineer. Putting her papers down at the peak of her career in IT to attend to her kids, Bhagyashri turned into a self-motivated entrepreneur and started selling handcrafted pots. The choice to deal in art came spontaneously to Bhagyashri who has always nurtured a love for painting. Bhagyashri is also a recognised poet in Marathi, English and Hindi. Her literary works have been published in numerous local magazines.
As an entrepreneur, Bhagyashri reaches out to women constantly riled by the demanding responsibilities at home and work. Her business strives to offer a space and identity to these women. Bhagyashri's diligent commitment to social works has made her a valued member of Rotary Club, Pune. In appreciation of VPR Mrs. India, Bhagyashri says the platform has given her the wings to soar higher.0
Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) took adecisive stride inpromotingthe culture of ‘work near home’ (WNH) when the nodal agency facilitated a nascent IT firm to set up office in Kerala, ten months after it shifted base from Bangaloreamid a Covid-induced lockdown.
KSUM Chief Executive Officer MrTapanRayaguru inaugurated the new office of Premagic near Thrissur, enabling the three-year-old company to turn a new leaf in its service offering cloud-based solutions for wedding photographers in a post-Covid scenario.
“The pandemic has prompted many companies to allow its employees work from home. But family atmosphere and professional engagements needn’t necessarily be an ideal mix. It is here that WNH gains relevance,”the CEO said, while announcing the formal start of Premagic’s headquarters in Kandassankadavu, 16 km southwest of this city.
The 2018-registered company, which is into SAAS business, chiefly targets wedding photographers, having launched a cloud-based photo-proofing app.
“Weddings can just be a start. Clients can come in for any joyous occasions—personal or professional,” MrRayaguru said. “I am sure WNH is to catch up in the days to come. KSUM assures all help to make it big trend.”
Premagic founder Anup Mohan said the KSUM-incubated company started as a cloud-based photo proofing app for photographers & their clients. It allows the clients to easily select/choose the images that are required for their album. It also helps the photographers to make digital signature albums that can be used to generate more referral leads and eventually new business.
“One major point that has boost our profile is our vacatingthe Bangalore premises last summer. In Kerala, we set up a base near my home. All our meetings and demo calls happen online from here,” Mr Mohan said.
Recently,Premagichired two hands from Bangalore. “To my surprise, they showed interest in relocating to Thrissur. They now work from here,” he revealed. “All we need is a good internet connection, ecosystem and accommodation. We managed all these with far less expense,” he revealed.
Premagic, which was selected as a delegate to attend The London Techweek 2019, received a scale-up grant from the Kerala government. In February last year, the company’s monthly revenue crossed Rs 3,00,000while the total number of its paid photographers rose to 200.
The outbreak of Covid-19 curbed weddings and its photography business, leading Premagic to scale down expansion plans. The company, instead, started exploring the B2B2C side by upselling to the bride and groom via photographers.
Premagic, with eight staffers, created a secondary revenue model by charging the photographer’s client. “We expanded the market and got new paid customers from Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh—from where we now have 100-plus photographers,” Mr Mohan said.
“Photographers in our platform crossed 4,000 with more than 500 paid subscribers. Total weddings in our platform crossed 10,000. Our revenue in January this year was Rs 5,00,000. “I believe our initiative will be an inspiration for other Kerala IT startups based outside to relocate their bases back to their home-state.”
KSUM, as a non-profit entity registered in 2014 under Society Act 1956, is an incubator approved by the Union government’s Department of Science and Technology’s National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board. The agency, which works for the promotion of entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state, undertakes planning, establishment and management of technology business incubators and accelerators to promote technology-based ventures by creating the infrastructure and environment.