• Kerala Govt. releases tourism statistics of 2018

    Kerala Government has released the complete statistics of tourism activities in the state during 2018, including the total number of foreign and domestic visitors and foreign exchange yielded by the sector.

    The compendium, Kerala Tourism Statistics 2018, was released at a function here by Hon’ble Minister for Co-operation, Tourism and Devaswom, Shri Kadakampally Surendran.

    “This detailed compilation of the entire statistics of the calendar year 2018 will serve as a basic document to evaluate the present scenario and chalk out future activities in tourism sector. This will be guide for the administrators, stake-holders in the industry and researchers”, Shri Surendran said.

    The statistics carried by the document include data on total footfall of tourists to the state,   district-wise break-up and figures pertaining to foreign and domestic visitors to various destinations. Also, it contains full details regarding the foreign exchange earned through tourism during the year and its district-wise figures.

    Tourism Secretary Smt Rani George IAS, Tourism Director Shri P Bala Kiran IAS, Additional Director Shri Krishna Teja IAS, Additional Secretary BS Prakash and Research Officer Shri C G Rajesh attended the function.

  • Design Week venue sports nature-friendly installations highlighting affordability

    Adding to the beauty of half-a-dozen installations at the ongoing three-day international event in this city, ‘Kissa’, a Malabar-based organisation, splendidly busts the myth that design is an elitist concept; rather the common people can also conceive and afford it tastefully.

    The way the nascent Kerala organisation has enhanced the outdoor looks of the Kochi Design Week (KDW) is drawing keen enquiries from curious visitors, convincing them the need to go in tune with nature while drawing and implementing plans of visual effect.

    If the very looks of the pathway to the December 12-14 KDW in Bolgatty Palace are distinct, it is because of the off-beat approach to decoration and the unorthodox materials that have gone into it, courtesy Kissa, which espouses aesthetic enhancement through affordable design.

    Founded this summer, the organisation in the state’s north-central Malappuram district is headed by a young homemaker who returned to her native place after 14 years of married life in the Gulf. Neethu Rahman, in her mid-30s, lives in Areekode, where she founded Kissa in April after having returned from Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah three years ago.

    “We design venues in line with the general mood of the event,” says Neethu at the KDW being oganised chiefly by the Kerala government. “Given that this event is fundamentally into exploring ways to rebuild sustainable infrastructure, we knew the vitality of it being nature-friendly. So, despite the convergence of a whole lot of corporate houses here, we knew the designs can’t be flamboyant even as they need to be attractive.”

    The KDW site by the Arabian Sea has its rows of cost-effective installations with striking appearance. For instance, there are thin wooden planks that are actually parts from vegetable carton boxes. The festoons and tiny boats are made of paper. What’s more, the hanging dolls are of the ‘Chekutty’ variety that have been a hit in Kerala as symbols of people’s resilience after the 2018 floods that hit the coastal state.

    Another installation has a middle-aged woman selling the Kozhikode halwa known for its unique looks and flavour. Dressed in ethnic Islamic garment of Malabar also known for traditional hospitality, she sells the sweet dishes in the shade of the roof made of black cloth.

    A wooden watercraft containing big paper balls  and small boats displaying lines of profuse thanksgiving symbolise the salute of Keralites to the fisherfolk community for saving thousands of lives during last year’s deluge.

    Another installation is a collection of 50 photographs judges selected from among 4,000 such entries to an annual competition held six months ago by environmental organisation Greenstorm Foundation along with UNEP. Named ‘Breath of Nature’, the online competition’s 2019 edition held in June “sprang up camera images that we thought could go well with the theme of KDW,” says Neethu.

    Then there is ‘Book of Life’ that speaks poignantly about the intensity of the 2018 flood in SS Higher Secondary School in Neethu’s Areekode, 25 km north of Malappuram city. “Let’s not forget that the literal meaning of kissa is story. This is a tale from my village,” says Neethu about the installation that is a sample of the books that were destroyed in the natural tragedy.

    Yet another artwork is a representation of seawaves, made of paper. Closeby is another installation which is a collection of ethnic toffees of 20th-century vintage from across Kerala.

    KDW aims to chart a long-term development mission for Kerala through futuristic design and architecture.

  • ITB Berlin Convention 2020: Smart tourism for a better future

    Sustainability, digitalisation, shifting customer demands and luxury travel are the key topics at the ITB Berlin Convention 2020 – The slogan of the global travel industry’s largest think tank is ’Smart Tourism for Future’ – The programme for the convention and eTravel World can be found at www.itb-convention.com – For exhibitors, trade visitors and the media admission to the convention is included in a ticket to ITB

    Groundbreaking changes lie in store for the global tourism industry. The big themes are sustainability, digitalisation, shifting customer demands and luxury travel. These will be the focus of discussions, lectures and deep dive sessions at the ITB Berlin Convention, where experts, researchers and leading representatives of the industry will present their ideas and offer inspiration to visitors for new approaches, projects and products. They will be substantiated by the latest market analyses, examples of best practices and exclusive surveys by the global tourism industry. For trade visitors, the media and exhibitors at the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show, admission to the ITB Berlin Convention (4 to 7 March 2020) is included in a ticket to ITB.

    Sustainability, climate change and environmental protection are aspects of major concern to the tourism industry, and not just since the Fridays for Future movement began. The topics of rising CO2 levels and over-consumption of resources and their effects on eco-systems and nature dominate everyday life worldwide. Many tourism companies are focusing more and more on intelligent and sustainable systems for managing tourism flows and including them in their strategies and products. The ITB Berlin Convention has comprehensive information on the current situation, the progress being made, but also on deficits and mistakes.

    Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber is director (emeritus) at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and one of the world’s leading climate scientists. In his keynote speech on ’Climate change, global warming, weather extremes’ at the ITB CSR Day on 6 March he will outline the status quo and need for action (11 -11.45 a.m., CityCube, Hall A1).

    Afterwards, at a Hotseat event, Fridays for Future activists will confront tourism professionals on the subject of ‘Flight shame’ (12 -12.45 p.m.). With sustainability now such an important topic, on 4 March the ITB Responsible Destination Day will be part of the convention programme for the first time (10.45 a.m. - 5.45 p.m., CityCube, Hall A1).

    In addition to ecology and sustainability, digitalisation has become one of the factors that will dominate tomorrow’s tourism industry. Customers want information about their trip everywhere and at all times. Comprehensive digitalisation can make their wishes come true. This topic runs through the entire convention – on every day of the event participants will discuss a variety of issues and present new ideas. On 4 March at the ITB Future Day, Dr. Michaela Lenzen, a science journalist and researcher, will highlight the opportunities and risks of AI, big data and robotics for both the industry and customers (2 – 2.45 p.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5).

    At the ITB Destination Day on 6 March the focus of the panel discussion will be the development and use of algorithms to create personal travel experiences (11 - 11.45 a.m., CityCube, Hall A4 + A5). A further discussion round will highlight the opportunities for destinations created by influencers and Instagram users as well as the accompanying challenges, which are often underestimated (4 - 4.45 p.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5).

    The events at the eTravel World will provide a practical context with even more background information on technical innovations and the digital transformation in the industry. More than 50 presentations, panel discussions and workshops featuring practitioners and visionaries from the technology sector will take place in Halls 7.1b (eTravel Lab) and 6.1 (eTravel Stage).

    It is not only digitalisation that is responsible for major change in the travel sector– shifting customer demands and expectations are leading to a complete restructuring of the industry. Travellers want products that fulfil their desires in every way. Rolf Freitag, CEO of IPK International, will present the relevant findings of the ITB Travel Monitor, the most wide-ranging travel survey worldwide, to visitors at the ITB Future Day on 4 March (3 - 3.45 p.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5).

    Travellers want experiences and adventure. Mass-market products have lost their appeal, most recently after Thomas Cook became insolvent. At the ITB Marketing & Distribution Day on 5 March, in his keynote speech on ‘The future of travel marketing: personalisation, retailing, platforms’, Sabre CEO Sean Menke will outline and analyse the challenges ahead (11 - 11.45 a.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5).

    Afterwards, Friedrich Joussen, CEO of TUI Group, will take questions on ’Operating in unprecedented times’ and industry developments around the world (12 -12.45 p.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5). Visitors can also gain an insight into the forward-looking strategies of TUI Group.

    Taking part in the 'ITB Executive Interview: Amazon + Travel’ will be David Peller, Global Head, Travel and Hospitality, Amazon Web Services (2 -2.45 p.m., City Cube, Halls A4 + A5). At the ITB Deep Dive Sessions on 6 March the SEO expert Kaspar Szymanski, formerly a member of Google’s search quality team, will explain the difference between Google’s manual and algorithmic penalties (11 -11.45 a.m., CityCube Cube Club).

    Shifting customer demands, desires and expectations are also influencing booking behaviour in the luxury travel market. At the ITB New Luxury Travel Forum on Marketing & Distribution Day on 5 March a new exclusive survey by ITB Berlin and Travelzoo will provide visitors with new data on travellers’ attitudes towards sustainability in the global luxury travel market. This will also be the main topic for discussion at the ITB Hospitality Executive Panel. A panel discussion on ’The future of luxury travel in the post-hedonistic age’ will examine the dominant global trends and their impact on tomorrow’s luxury travel market (5 -5.45 p.m., CityCube Halls A4 + A5).

  • Tamara Hospitality Group launches 5-star hotel in Kerala capital

    Tamara, a prominent hospitality group with properties in Kodaikanal, Coorg and Bengaluru, has made an aggressive foray into the Kerala market with the launch of their 5-star hotel O by Tamara. The hotel is the perfect destination for business and leisure, and boasts the biggest hotel Convention Centre in the state capital, at Aakulam.

    Shruti Shibulal, who has grown ‘Tamara’ into a sought-after hospitality group, aspires to hit 1,000 rooms by 2025. She has hammered out a string of plans for Kerala, with upcoming projects in Alappuzha, Guruvayoor and Kannur, with a total investment of Rs 300 crore.

    Announcing her plans to start their 152-room ‘O by Tamara’ here, Shruti Shibulal, CEO and Director, Tamara Leisure Experiences Pvt. Ltd, told a press conference that the decision to initiate operations in Kerala was guided by the state’s considerable progress in tourism and IT sectors.

    “Kerala is an evergreen tourism destination and has always attracted visitors from across the globe. We hope to partner with and contribute to the hospitality ecosystem in the state,” said Shruti.

    “Responsible Hospitality is the foundation of the Tamara group. My vision is to create a hospitality group that meets the highest standards of corporate governance, workplace ethics, sustainability practices and guest delight,” she added.

    “We have diligently followed the green protocol right from the initial phases of the construction of the project,” said Shruti. The project is GRIHA-certified and the hotel is looking forward to receiving its GRIHA certification shortly. (GRIHA, the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment, is a rating tool that helps people assess the performance of their buildings against nationally acceptable benchmarks).

    Highlighting the key features of the hotel, including its 10,000 sq ft Convention Centre, the largest in Kerala’s capital, Shruti said the space can be used entirely or can be divided into two spaces of 7,000 and 3,000 sq ft. The hall can accommodate up to 1,250 people in theatre-style seating and up to 500 people in round-table seating.

    Located at the first floor with a dedicated elevator from the lobby, the 1,809 sq ft Business Centre includes a lounge, a bar, a boardroom, and a 1,400 sq ft conference room that offers customisable seating, accommodating up to 125 people in theatre-style and up to 75 in round table-style. The boardroom for formal business meetings, covering an area of 258 sq ft, can seat up to 12 members.

    The hotel also offers a sprawling outdoor, poolside lawn of 7,136 sq ft located on the third floor of the hotel, ideal for outdoor functions with a floating crowd of up to 300-350 guests.

    There are three categories of rooms: 301 sq ft deluxe and elite rooms and  729 sq ft suite room which includes a separate living room, powder room, and bedroom. The rooms are equipped with 43” HD smart TV, 24-hour high speed Internet, electronic safe, stocked minibar, walk-in shower, laundry services and sound-proof windows.

    Apart from a 24-hour-room service for house guests, ‘O by Tamara’ has four luxury restaurants: an all-day diner called ‘O Café’ and LBV, the lobby pastry shop, are open. A stunning rooftop bar and grill, ‘Take Off’ as well as a Sports Bar, will be operational shortly.

    A spa, equipped with five treatment rooms, steam, sauna, and jacuzzi, and managed by trained therapists and masseuses, a state-of-the-art gym and fitness centre, and an infinity pool are the other highlights.
     

  • MTB Kerala 2019: Top cyclists from across the globe to participate

    Biking professionals and aficionados from India and abroad will test their endurance and expertise in a most challenging and rugged terrain of the Western Ghats as the 6th edition of MTB (Mountain Bike) Kerala is all set to be held on December 21, 22 at Priyadarshini Tea Environs, Mananthavady in the state’s Wayanad district.

    Organised by Kerala government’s Department of Tourism under the aegis of Kerala Adventure Tourism Promotion Society (KATPS), District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) - Wayanad and Cycling Federation of India (CFI), this year’s mega mountain biking event will be more challenging and thrilling, taking the riders through a 5-km stretch at an altitude of 3,000 feet that encompasses terrains like dirt, rock and water.

    Famous for the adrenaline rush it offers, MTB Kerala is the first mountain bike race in India to be featured in the MTB race calendar of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the Swiss-based world governing body for sports cycling and overseas international competitive cycling events.

    “Over the years, the stupendous success of MTB Kerala has placed the state on the global map of mountain biking and also brought into sharp focus its adventure-related facets. It provides an opportunity to all cyclists to be the part of UCI-approved MTB Kerala race and demonstrate power-packed and thrilling performances to captivate viewers,” Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran said.

    This year’s race will be held in three categories: International Cross Country, National Cross Country – Men, and National Cross Country – Women. An added attraction of the event is that it also includes for the first time an additional race for amateurs, titled ‘Fun & Thrill Challenge’.

    For amateurs’ event, the registration fee is Rs. 1,000 per participant, and it can be done online at MTB Kerala website, www.mtbkerala.com. Registration starts on December 5 from 10 am onwards and closes on December 10 at 5 pm. For the ‘Fun & Thrill Challenge’, any amateur cyclist, who can manage to ride on a mountain terrain, may participate.

    Fun & Thrill Challenge will have separate category for men and women. Participants who reach in first 25 positions in the qualifying round of a 38-km road cycling competition on December 20 will be selected for the MTB Amateur Championship on December 21. There is no qualification round for women category. The total entry for men for this segment is limited to 100 and 25 for women on first come first serve basis.

    The first three positions in the amateurs’ challenge round will qualify for the MTB National Category Championship, to be held on December 22. Participants will have to bring their own MTB cycles and safety equipments.

    Registration for international and national participants, free of cost, is already over. Only valid UCI and CFI (Cycling Federation of India) licensed nominees can participate in the national and international competitions. The technical committee will scrutinize the qualification of the riders and those who are qualified will be intimated.

    The race is open to both individual riders and teams. As for the prize money, the winner in International Cross Country race will get Rs 150,000 while the first, second, third and fourth runner up will secure Rs 100,000, Rs 50,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively.

    The winner in National Cross Country – Men race will be awarded a prize money of Rs 100,000 while the first, second and third runner up would be getting Rs. 50,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively. As for the National Cross Country – Women event, the winner will be presented Rs 50,000 while the first three runners up will be getting Rs 25,000, Rs 20,000 and Rs 15,000, respectively. The first three winners of ‘Fun & Thrill Challenge’ will also be given cash prize, medals and certificates.

  • MTB Kerala 2019: Top cyclists from across the globe to participate

    Biking professionals and aficionados from India and abroad will test their endurance and expertise in a most challenging and rugged terrain of the Western Ghats as the 6th edition of MTB (Mountain Bike) Kerala is all set to be held on December 21, 22 at Priyadarshini Tea Environs, Mananthavady in the state’s Wayanad district.

    Organised by Kerala government’s Department of Tourism under the aegis of Kerala Adventure Tourism Promotion Society (KATPS), District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) - Wayanad and Cycling Federation of India (CFI), this year’s mega mountain biking event will be more challenging and thrilling, taking the riders through a 5-km stretch at an altitude of 3,000 feet that encompasses terrains like dirt, rock and water.

    Famous for the adrenaline rush it offers, MTB Kerala is the first mountain bike race in India to be featured in the MTB race calendar of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the Swiss-based world governing body for sports cycling and overseas international competitive cycling events.

    “Over the years, the stupendous success of MTB Kerala has placed the state on the global map of mountain biking and also brought into sharp focus its adventure-related facets. It provides an opportunity to all cyclists to be the part of UCI-approved MTB Kerala race and demonstrate power-packed and thrilling performances to captivate viewers,” Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran said.

    This year’s race will be held in three categories: International Cross Country, National Cross Country – Men, and National Cross Country – Women. An added attraction of the event is that it also includes for the first time an additional race for amateurs, titled ‘Fun & Thrill Challenge’.

    For amateurs’ event, the registration fee is Rs. 1,000 per participant, and it can be done online at MTB Kerala website, www.mtbkerala.com. Registration starts on December 5 from 10 am onwards and closes on December 10 at 5 pm. For the ‘Fun & Thrill Challenge’, any amateur cyclist, who can manage to ride on a mountain terrain, may participate.

    Fun & Thrill Challenge will have separate category for men and women. Participants who reach in first 25 positions in the qualifying round of a 38-km road cycling competition on December 20 will be selected for the MTB Amateur Championship on December 21. There is no qualification round for women category. The total entry for men for this segment is limited to 100 and 25 for women on first come first serve basis.

    The first three positions in the amateurs’ challenge round will qualify for the MTB National Category Championship, to be held on December 22. Participants will have to bring their own MTB cycles and safety equipments.

    Registration for international and national participants, free of cost, is already over. Only valid UCI and CFI (Cycling Federation of India) licensed nominees can participate in the national and international competitions. The technical committee will scrutinize the qualification of the riders and those who are qualified will be intimated.

    The race is open to both individual riders and teams. As for the prize money, the winner in International Cross Country race will get Rs 150,000 while the first, second, third and fourth runner up will secure Rs 100,000, Rs 50,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively.

    The winner in National Cross Country – Men race will be awarded a prize money of Rs 100,000 while the first, second and third runner up would be getting Rs. 50,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively. As for the National Cross Country – Women event, the winner will be presented Rs 50,000 while the first three runners up will be getting Rs 25,000, Rs 20,000 and Rs 15,000, respectively. The first three winners of ‘Fun & Thrill Challenge’ will also be given cash prize, medals and certificates.

  • Service Center dedicated for repair and service of Bosch Power Tools

    Bosch Power Tools India, a market leader in the power tools segment that offers a complete range of power tools for construction, woodworking, and the metalworking industry, launch their company-owned service center in Mumbai, India dedicated to tool repairs and service. To empower and assist tradesmen and professionals across, the service center comes with a promise to provide quality solutions and customized support services.

    Hitherto, Bosch Power Tools has authorized service centers and authorized service dealers run by channel partners and dealers. With their brand-owned establishment, Bosch seeks to provide expeditious yet efficient service to its users while maintaining the absolute authenticity of accessories and spare parts.

    Commenting on the occasion, *Panish PK, Regional Business Director - India and SAARC – Bosch Power Tools * said, “Bosch Power Tools' offerings are designed to minimize manual effort and discomfort while maximizing and driving quality output. Our  promise of delivering first hand customer experience has ensured brand loyalty and consumer delight in all innovations and services. The service center’s goal is to assist this dream and lay the foundation for effortless working in the Indian creative and construction space.”

    He  further adds, “India’s real estate and construction sector is undergoing a paradigm shift due to reformative and transformative projects undertaken by the government and private segments. We, at Bosch Power Tools India, believe in empowering individuals, offering state-of-the-art devices, flawless experiences and services to individuals who create visions into reality at  the operational level.“

    Completing 25 years of operations in India, Bosch Power Tools has achieved multiple milestones in the industry introducing innovations and best in class products and will continue on this journey of invention and development. As the customer base  grows, Bosch Power Tools works with their people and partners to create new opportunities, provide exclusive experiences, unparalled service and advanced tools aiding the Indian Machine Industry in the years to follow.

    The premier Bosch Power Tools service center has launched and is now open for operations in Mumbai, India.
     

  • Kerala Tourism goes East Asia; holds trade meets in China, Singapore & Japan

    Giving a formidable push to its East Asia initiatives, Kerala Tourism showcased a wide spectrum of its alluring products and services in thriving markets of China, Singapore and Japan this month, in renewed efforts to raise the profile of the state as a must-visit destination and ensure its brand visibility.

    As part of its strategy to aggressively promote the state in the China market, a high-profile delegation of Tourism Department, which included leading trade partners from the state, participated in China International Travel Mart (CITM) 2019 at Kunming and also organised two roadshows in Shanghai and Beijing.

    Tourism Secretary Smt. Rani George, who led the delegation, made a presentation on the tourism products and potential of Kerala at the trade meets in Shanghai and Beijing.

    Dr. Acquino Vimal, Deputy Chief of Mission, was the Chief Guest at the Beijing show, where India Tourism also participated. The Kerala event was attended by 84 buyers and representatives of prominent media establishments.

    As for the roadshow in Shanghai, business sessions were held between tour operators from the Chinese city and members of the Kerala trade. Shri Anil Kumar Rai, Consul General, was the Chief Guest at this event, which included 80 buyers.

    At CITM, Kerala had set up a 36 sq.mt stand at the trade fair, attracting a steady stream of visitors and business stakeholders.

    “We are trying to ensure brand visibility in East Asian markets using innovative strategies. China is an important emerging market for Kerala Tourism.  In just two decades, it* has become the world’s largest outbound travel market*, with some 145 million Chinese travellers visiting abroad in 2017,” Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran said.

    “We need to make Kerala hospitable to China’s outbound tourists as the world’s most populous country has the potential to give a fillip to the tourism economy of the state. We need to pique their interest in Kerala through a multi-pronged strategy. We are looking into the issues like paucity of guides well-versed in Chinese language. Additionally, we have to rustle up new products, especially in the adventure segment, promote MICE tourism and latch on to martial arts Kalaripayattu and wellness product Ayurveda in a big way,” he added.

    A total of 9,630 tourists from China visited Kerala in 2018 as compared to 7,113 in 2017, registering a 35 per cent increase.

    “We are determined to put Kerala firmly on the radar of globe-trotting Chinese travellers and create awareness among them about God’s Own Country. By organising the roadshows, we were able to whip up a lot of excitement among the stakeholders of China’s tourism and hospitality industry,” Smt. George said.

    “Besides developing B2B contacts, we also sent a strong message to the Chinese travellers that Kerala is a safe, attractive and affordable tourist destination. We need to be ready with package and customised tours to  attract them,” she added.

    Kerala has become the first Indian state to be partnered with the ‘China Ready’ programme, which has already been conducted in 48 countries, to increase footfalls from China. A destination audit from Chinese tourist’s perspective to ascertain the attractiveness of the destination has also commenced in Alappuzha, Thekkady, Munnar and Kochi.

    In Singapore, Kerala Tourism participated in ITB Asia 2019, Asia’s leading travel trade show’ held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands. The Kerala pavilion, set up on a 24 sq.mt area, was splashed with the theme of “Human by Nature”, a three-minute new campaign film launched to appeal to high spenders and backpackers. Large backlit wall of the theme attracted a lot of visitors while brochures were distributed to potential tour operators.

    A string of meetings were scheduled in the Kerala Stand between leading outbound tour operators and travel publications in the stand. Alongside, B2B meetings with the trade partners from Kerala were also held, opening doors for Kerala as a renowned destination in the product catalogue of Singapore-based operators.

    Singapore, a leading market for Kerala in terms of tourist arrivals, sent 9,460 tourists to the state in 2018.

    Kerala Tourism also participated in Tourism Expo Japan, which was organised for the first time in Osaka. The event attracted more than 225,000 visitors and representatives of over 1,000 businesses from 130 countries. The co-exhibitors from Kerala held meetings with tour operators and media from Japan to create awareness about the state. As part of the promotional activities, a roadshow was organized in Tokyo.

    In 2018, Kerala’s backwaters and Ayurveda had attracted 15,665 tourists from Japan, which was a 17% increase over the previous year.

  • Upgrade skills to compete in global events, Minister tells youth

    Skill development has become a key factor to vie for honours in global competitions and the youngsters in the state should live up to the challenge by upgrading their skills, said Kerala Labour Minister Shri T.P. Ramakrishnan on Wednesday.

    “Though the state can boast of progress in most of the fields, our skill development needs to be improved with respect to the rising global demand,” the Minister said while interacting with the winners of World Skills Competitions 2019, Asia Skills Competitions, Euroskill Competitions, India Skills 2018 and Global Skills Australia.

    Shri Ramakrishnan said that keeping this in mind, the government is giving emphasis on skill development through events like India Skills Kerala 2020, which sets the stage for youngsters to compete in a wide range of vocational and non-vocational skills. “In India Skills Kerala 2020, we have included 42 skill competitions, more than doubling from 20 categories last year.” 

    The event is jointly organized by the Industrial Training Department and Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence (KASE), the State’s Skill Development Mission under the Labour and Skills Department.

    “In order to improve their communication skills, we can give them one-month language training,”Shri Ramakrishnan said while replying to the queries from the gathering.

    Shri. Satyajeet Rajan IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Labour and Skills; and Shri Chandrasekar S. IAS, MD, KASE, were also present.

    Mr Nidhin Prem (3D Digital Game Art), Mr Jibin Williams (Floristry) and Mr Mohammed Rabith. K (Wall and Floor Tilling) had represented India in the World Skills Competitions 2019 held at Kazan, Russia. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Prem said he could showcase his talent on a global platform and bag a Medallion for Excellence.

    Mr Rabith, who also got a Medallion of Excellence, and stood fourth in global competition, said the support of the government, ITD and KASE was remarkable in his achievement. 

    Meanwhile, Mr Williams said he could perform well in the global event which had contestants from 26 countries in the fray.  

    The State level winners of India Skills Kerala 2020 will make it to India Skills National 2020, and the national winners will get the opportunity to participate in World Skills 2021, Shanghai, China. Popular skills like cooking and hair-dressing have found entry into the contest list of the India Skills Kerala 2020. 

    The District level competitions will be held from December 14 to 19. The Zonal events will be organized in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode from January 10 to 15, 2020. The State level competitions will take place at Swapna Nagari, Kozhikode, from February 15 to 17.

    Total price money of the event is Rs 78 lakh. The winner of India Skills Kerala will get Rs one lakh while the runner-up will be awarded Rs 50,000. Finalists will get Rs 10,000 each. The last date for registration will be December 4, 2019. For details visit www.indiaskillskerala.com. Also contact 9496327045

  • Metro Food Awards 2020 logo unveiled and Nominations invited

    The prestigious Metro Food Awards conducted annually to recognise the best in the food business has launched the official logo for Metro Food Awards 2020 at Taj Green Cove Resort & Spa, Kovalam. The logo was jointly unveiled by Chacko Paul, President of South Kerala Hoteliers’ Forum (SKHF) and Baby Mathew Somatheeram, President, Kerala Travel Mart. G. Sudhiesh Kumar, Patron, Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association, Pankaj Senan, Convenor, SKHF, Manoj Babu, Secretary General, SKHF, Siji Nair, Managing Director, Metro Mart were among the other dignitaries who attended the event.

    Metro Food Awards has become a key contributor in identifying and providing recognition to the best restaurants and hotels in the state. The awards has become a norm of reputation for the top players in the business. The nominations for the 7th edition of Metro Food Awards has been called for. This year, metro food awards has added a new segment for recognising the best food brands as well. Nominations are expected from food brands, entrepreneurs, startups, hotels and restaurants. The last date for submission of nominations is slated to December 20, 2019. Registration can be done online through www.themetroawards.com or contact 9947733339.

Design Week venue sports nature-friendly installations highlighting affordability

Adding to the beauty of half-a-dozen installations at the ongoing three-day international event in this city, ‘Kissa’, a Malabar-based organisation, splendidly busts the myth that design is an elitist concept; rather the common people can also conceive and afford it tastefully.

The way the nascent Kerala organisation has enhanced the outdoor looks of the Kochi Design Week (KDW) is drawing keen enquiries from curious visitors, convincing them the need to go in tune with nature while drawing and implementing plans of visual effect.

If the very looks of the pathway to the December 12-14 KDW in Bolgatty Palace are distinct, it is because of the off-beat approach to decoration and the unorthodox materials that have gone into it, courtesy Kissa, which espouses aesthetic enhancement through affordable design.

Founded this summer, the organisation in the state’s north-central Malappuram district is headed by a young homemaker who returned to her native place after 14 years of married life in the Gulf. Neethu Rahman, in her mid-30s, lives in Areekode, where she founded Kissa in April after having returned from Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah three years ago.

“We design venues in line with the general mood of the event,” says Neethu at the KDW being oganised chiefly by the Kerala government. “Given that this event is fundamentally into exploring ways to rebuild sustainable infrastructure, we knew the vitality of it being nature-friendly. So, despite the convergence of a whole lot of corporate houses here, we knew the designs can’t be flamboyant even as they need to be attractive.”

The KDW site by the Arabian Sea has its rows of cost-effective installations with striking appearance. For instance, there are thin wooden planks that are actually parts from vegetable carton boxes. The festoons and tiny boats are made of paper. What’s more, the hanging dolls are of the ‘Chekutty’ variety that have been a hit in Kerala as symbols of people’s resilience after the 2018 floods that hit the coastal state.

Another installation has a middle-aged woman selling the Kozhikode halwa known for its unique looks and flavour. Dressed in ethnic Islamic garment of Malabar also known for traditional hospitality, she sells the sweet dishes in the shade of the roof made of black cloth.

A wooden watercraft containing big paper balls  and small boats displaying lines of profuse thanksgiving symbolise the salute of Keralites to the fisherfolk community for saving thousands of lives during last year’s deluge.

Another installation is a collection of 50 photographs judges selected from among 4,000 such entries to an annual competition held six months ago by environmental organisation Greenstorm Foundation along with UNEP. Named ‘Breath of Nature’, the online competition’s 2019 edition held in June “sprang up camera images that we thought could go well with the theme of KDW,” says Neethu.

Then there is ‘Book of Life’ that speaks poignantly about the intensity of the 2018 flood in SS Higher Secondary School in Neethu’s Areekode, 25 km north of Malappuram city. “Let’s not forget that the literal meaning of kissa is story. This is a tale from my village,” says Neethu about the installation that is a sample of the books that were destroyed in the natural tragedy.

Yet another artwork is a representation of seawaves, made of paper. Closeby is another installation which is a collection of ethnic toffees of 20th-century vintage from across Kerala.

KDW aims to chart a long-term development mission for Kerala through futuristic design and architecture.

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ITB Berlin Convention 2020: Smart tourism for a better future

Sustainability, digitalisation, shifting customer demands and luxury travel are the key topics at the ITB Berlin Convention 2020 – The slogan of the global travel industry’s largest think tank is ’Smart Tourism for Future’ – The programme for the convention and eTravel World can be found at www.itb-convention.com – For exhibitors, trade visitors and the media admission to the convention is included in a ticket to ITB

Groundbreaking changes lie in store for the global tourism industry. The big themes are sustainability, digitalisation, shifting customer demands and luxury travel. These will be the focus of discussions, lectures and deep dive sessions at the ITB Berlin Convention, where experts, researchers and leading representatives of the industry will present their ideas and offer inspiration to visitors for new approaches, projects and products. They will be substantiated by the latest market analyses, examples of best practices and exclusive surveys by the global tourism industry. For trade visitors, the media and exhibitors at the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show, admission to the ITB Berlin Convention (4 to 7 March 2020) is included in a ticket to ITB.

Sustainability, climate change and environmental protection are aspects of major concern to the tourism industry, and not just since the Fridays for Future movement began. The topics of rising CO2 levels and over-consumption of resources and their effects on eco-systems and nature dominate everyday life worldwide. Many tourism companies are focusing more and more on intelligent and sustainable systems for managing tourism flows and including them in their strategies and products. The ITB Berlin Convention has comprehensive information on the current situation, the progress being made, but also on deficits and mistakes.

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber is director (emeritus) at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and one of the world’s leading climate scientists. In his keynote speech on ’Climate change, global warming, weather extremes’ at the ITB CSR Day on 6 March he will outline the status quo and need for action (11 -11.45 a.m., CityCube, Hall A1).

Afterwards, at a Hotseat event, Fridays for Future activists will confront tourism professionals on the subject of ‘Flight shame’ (12 -12.45 p.m.). With sustainability now such an important topic, on 4 March the ITB Responsible Destination Day will be part of the convention programme for the first time (10.45 a.m. - 5.45 p.m., CityCube, Hall A1).

In addition to ecology and sustainability, digitalisation has become one of the factors that will dominate tomorrow’s tourism industry. Customers want information about their trip everywhere and at all times. Comprehensive digitalisation can make their wishes come true. This topic runs through the entire convention – on every day of the event participants will discuss a variety of issues and present new ideas. On 4 March at the ITB Future Day, Dr. Michaela Lenzen, a science journalist and researcher, will highlight the opportunities and risks of AI, big data and robotics for both the industry and customers (2 – 2.45 p.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5).

At the ITB Destination Day on 6 March the focus of the panel discussion will be the development and use of algorithms to create personal travel experiences (11 - 11.45 a.m., CityCube, Hall A4 + A5). A further discussion round will highlight the opportunities for destinations created by influencers and Instagram users as well as the accompanying challenges, which are often underestimated (4 - 4.45 p.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5).

The events at the eTravel World will provide a practical context with even more background information on technical innovations and the digital transformation in the industry. More than 50 presentations, panel discussions and workshops featuring practitioners and visionaries from the technology sector will take place in Halls 7.1b (eTravel Lab) and 6.1 (eTravel Stage).

It is not only digitalisation that is responsible for major change in the travel sector– shifting customer demands and expectations are leading to a complete restructuring of the industry. Travellers want products that fulfil their desires in every way. Rolf Freitag, CEO of IPK International, will present the relevant findings of the ITB Travel Monitor, the most wide-ranging travel survey worldwide, to visitors at the ITB Future Day on 4 March (3 - 3.45 p.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5).

Travellers want experiences and adventure. Mass-market products have lost their appeal, most recently after Thomas Cook became insolvent. At the ITB Marketing & Distribution Day on 5 March, in his keynote speech on ‘The future of travel marketing: personalisation, retailing, platforms’, Sabre CEO Sean Menke will outline and analyse the challenges ahead (11 - 11.45 a.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5).

Afterwards, Friedrich Joussen, CEO of TUI Group, will take questions on ’Operating in unprecedented times’ and industry developments around the world (12 -12.45 p.m., CityCube, Halls A4 + A5). Visitors can also gain an insight into the forward-looking strategies of TUI Group.

Taking part in the 'ITB Executive Interview: Amazon + Travel’ will be David Peller, Global Head, Travel and Hospitality, Amazon Web Services (2 -2.45 p.m., City Cube, Halls A4 + A5). At the ITB Deep Dive Sessions on 6 March the SEO expert Kaspar Szymanski, formerly a member of Google’s search quality team, will explain the difference between Google’s manual and algorithmic penalties (11 -11.45 a.m., CityCube Cube Club).

Shifting customer demands, desires and expectations are also influencing booking behaviour in the luxury travel market. At the ITB New Luxury Travel Forum on Marketing & Distribution Day on 5 March a new exclusive survey by ITB Berlin and Travelzoo will provide visitors with new data on travellers’ attitudes towards sustainability in the global luxury travel market. This will also be the main topic for discussion at the ITB Hospitality Executive Panel. A panel discussion on ’The future of luxury travel in the post-hedonistic age’ will examine the dominant global trends and their impact on tomorrow’s luxury travel market (5 -5.45 p.m., CityCube Halls A4 + A5).

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Tamara Hospitality Group launches 5-star hotel in Kerala capital

Tamara, a prominent hospitality group with properties in Kodaikanal, Coorg and Bengaluru, has made an aggressive foray into the Kerala market with the launch of their 5-star hotel O by Tamara. The hotel is the perfect destination for business and leisure, and boasts the biggest hotel Convention Centre in the state capital, at Aakulam.

Shruti Shibulal, who has grown ‘Tamara’ into a sought-after hospitality group, aspires to hit 1,000 rooms by 2025. She has hammered out a string of plans for Kerala, with upcoming projects in Alappuzha, Guruvayoor and Kannur, with a total investment of Rs 300 crore.

Announcing her plans to start their 152-room ‘O by Tamara’ here, Shruti Shibulal, CEO and Director, Tamara Leisure Experiences Pvt. Ltd, told a press conference that the decision to initiate operations in Kerala was guided by the state’s considerable progress in tourism and IT sectors.

“Kerala is an evergreen tourism destination and has always attracted visitors from across the globe. We hope to partner with and contribute to the hospitality ecosystem in the state,” said Shruti.

“Responsible Hospitality is the foundation of the Tamara group. My vision is to create a hospitality group that meets the highest standards of corporate governance, workplace ethics, sustainability practices and guest delight,” she added.

“We have diligently followed the green protocol right from the initial phases of the construction of the project,” said Shruti. The project is GRIHA-certified and the hotel is looking forward to receiving its GRIHA certification shortly. (GRIHA, the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment, is a rating tool that helps people assess the performance of their buildings against nationally acceptable benchmarks).

Highlighting the key features of the hotel, including its 10,000 sq ft Convention Centre, the largest in Kerala’s capital, Shruti said the space can be used entirely or can be divided into two spaces of 7,000 and 3,000 sq ft. The hall can accommodate up to 1,250 people in theatre-style seating and up to 500 people in round-table seating.

Located at the first floor with a dedicated elevator from the lobby, the 1,809 sq ft Business Centre includes a lounge, a bar, a boardroom, and a 1,400 sq ft conference room that offers customisable seating, accommodating up to 125 people in theatre-style and up to 75 in round table-style. The boardroom for formal business meetings, covering an area of 258 sq ft, can seat up to 12 members.

The hotel also offers a sprawling outdoor, poolside lawn of 7,136 sq ft located on the third floor of the hotel, ideal for outdoor functions with a floating crowd of up to 300-350 guests.

There are three categories of rooms: 301 sq ft deluxe and elite rooms and  729 sq ft suite room which includes a separate living room, powder room, and bedroom. The rooms are equipped with 43” HD smart TV, 24-hour high speed Internet, electronic safe, stocked minibar, walk-in shower, laundry services and sound-proof windows.

Apart from a 24-hour-room service for house guests, ‘O by Tamara’ has four luxury restaurants: an all-day diner called ‘O Café’ and LBV, the lobby pastry shop, are open. A stunning rooftop bar and grill, ‘Take Off’ as well as a Sports Bar, will be operational shortly.

A spa, equipped with five treatment rooms, steam, sauna, and jacuzzi, and managed by trained therapists and masseuses, a state-of-the-art gym and fitness centre, and an infinity pool are the other highlights.
 

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MTB Kerala 2019: Top cyclists from across the globe to participate

Biking professionals and aficionados from India and abroad will test their endurance and expertise in a most challenging and rugged terrain of the Western Ghats as the 6th edition of MTB (Mountain Bike) Kerala is all set to be held on December 21, 22 at Priyadarshini Tea Environs, Mananthavady in the state’s Wayanad district.

Organised by Kerala government’s Department of Tourism under the aegis of Kerala Adventure Tourism Promotion Society (KATPS), District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) - Wayanad and Cycling Federation of India (CFI), this year’s mega mountain biking event will be more challenging and thrilling, taking the riders through a 5-km stretch at an altitude of 3,000 feet that encompasses terrains like dirt, rock and water.

Famous for the adrenaline rush it offers, MTB Kerala is the first mountain bike race in India to be featured in the MTB race calendar of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the Swiss-based world governing body for sports cycling and overseas international competitive cycling events.

“Over the years, the stupendous success of MTB Kerala has placed the state on the global map of mountain biking and also brought into sharp focus its adventure-related facets. It provides an opportunity to all cyclists to be the part of UCI-approved MTB Kerala race and demonstrate power-packed and thrilling performances to captivate viewers,” Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran said.

This year’s race will be held in three categories: International Cross Country, National Cross Country – Men, and National Cross Country – Women. An added attraction of the event is that it also includes for the first time an additional race for amateurs, titled ‘Fun & Thrill Challenge’.

For amateurs’ event, the registration fee is Rs. 1,000 per participant, and it can be done online at MTB Kerala website, www.mtbkerala.com. Registration starts on December 5 from 10 am onwards and closes on December 10 at 5 pm. For the ‘Fun & Thrill Challenge’, any amateur cyclist, who can manage to ride on a mountain terrain, may participate.

Fun & Thrill Challenge will have separate category for men and women. Participants who reach in first 25 positions in the qualifying round of a 38-km road cycling competition on December 20 will be selected for the MTB Amateur Championship on December 21. There is no qualification round for women category. The total entry for men for this segment is limited to 100 and 25 for women on first come first serve basis.

The first three positions in the amateurs’ challenge round will qualify for the MTB National Category Championship, to be held on December 22. Participants will have to bring their own MTB cycles and safety equipments.

Registration for international and national participants, free of cost, is already over. Only valid UCI and CFI (Cycling Federation of India) licensed nominees can participate in the national and international competitions. The technical committee will scrutinize the qualification of the riders and those who are qualified will be intimated.

The race is open to both individual riders and teams. As for the prize money, the winner in International Cross Country race will get Rs 150,000 while the first, second, third and fourth runner up will secure Rs 100,000, Rs 50,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively.

The winner in National Cross Country – Men race will be awarded a prize money of Rs 100,000 while the first, second and third runner up would be getting Rs. 50,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively. As for the National Cross Country – Women event, the winner will be presented Rs 50,000 while the first three runners up will be getting Rs 25,000, Rs 20,000 and Rs 15,000, respectively. The first three winners of ‘Fun & Thrill Challenge’ will also be given cash prize, medals and certificates.

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