Ker­ala air­ports make VoA his­tory

The in­tro­duc­tion of Tourist Visa- on-Ar­rival ( VoA) fa­cil­ity at Thiruvanan­thapuram and Kochi air­ports marks a new chap­ter for Ker­ala Tourism…

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state of Ker­ala had been ben­e­fi­ciary of the roll out of the Visa-on-Ar­rival scheme to new air­ports. In fact, it has now be­come the only state that of­fers VoA at its two air­ports. Thiruvanan­thapuram and

The in­tro­duc­tion of VoA fa­cil­ity at Thiruvanan­thapuram and Kochi air­ports will help at­tract more for­eign visi­tors to the state

Kochi air­ports are among only eight in the coun­try to of­fer VoA. It was rolled out in the first phase in Delhi, Mum­bai, Kolkata and Chen­nai. Two

Ker­ala gets over 1 crore tourists that con­sist of 9 lakh for­eign tourists and over 94 lakh do­mes­tic tourists

other air­ports that got VoA fa­cil­ity in the sec­ond phase are Ben­galuru and Hy­der­abad. Ker­ala is also the only state to have two air­ports of­fer­ing the ser­vice.

“The in­tro­duc­tion of VoA fa­cil­ity at Thiruvanan­thapuram and Kochi air­ports marks a new chap­ter for Ker­ala Tourism and will help at­tract more for­eign visi­tors to the state,” said Anil Ku­mar, Min­is­ter of Tourism, Ker­ala. VoA is cur­rently avail­able for cit­i­zens of 11 coun- tries–Ja­pan, Sin­ga­pore, Fin­land, Lux­em­bourg, New Zealand, the Philip­pines, Cambodia, Laos, Viet­nam, Myan­mar and In­done­sia. Th­ese coun­tries are mar­kets where Ker­ala Tourism sees vast po­ten­tial and is be­gin­ning to make sig­nif­i­cant in­roads. As per the sta­tis­tics re­leased by Ker­ala tourism, tourist ar­rivals from Ja­pan rose by around 56 per cent in five years to 11,440 in 2012; and the ar­rivals from Fin­land more than dou­bled over the pe­riod to 5,160 last year. Tourist ar­rivals from coun­tries such as New Zealand, Sin­ga­pore and The Philip­pines have sim­i­larly risen be­tween 75 per cent and 90 per cent since 2008.

This year, Ker­ala is look­ing at the jump in re­mit­tances led by de­val­u­a­tion in ru­pee as an op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to the dou­ble digit. As per Suman Billa, Sec­re­tary, Ker­ala Tourism, “Ker­ala has not looked back ever since it started pro­mot­ing tourism in 1996. In fact, presently, Ker­ala gets over 1 crore tourists that con­sist of 9 lakh for­eign tourists and over 94 lakh do­mes­tic tourists.”

“We have been grow­ing at an av­er­age of about 13-14

per cent in the past decade. Last few years had seen growth of 8-9 per cent, which is still ro­bust from global stan­dards, due to slow­down in the global econ­omy. Ker­ala gets about ` 65,000 crore re­mit­tances ev­ery year. Due to the tem­po­rary de­pre­ci­a­tion in the value of In­dian ru­pee, the value of th­ese re­mit­tances has al­ready in­creased by 20 per cent. More­over, it will pos­i­tively ef­fect the ` 20,000 crore turnover gen­er­ated by tourism,” added Billa.

Ker­ala has just ended host­ing two of the big travel trade as­so­ci­a­tions’ an­nual con­ven­tion in­clud­ing IATO and FHRAI. Billa looks at such trade events as a good plat­form for the desti­na­tion to up­date the key stake­hold­ers in the travel and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor. “Travel trade events with over 1,000 del­e­gates from travel and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try help us to ap­prise the in­dus­try on the var­i­ous de­vel­op­ments, changes and new ini­tia­tives be­ing worked out in the state,” said Billa.

“Many of the del­e­gates go for post-event ex­cur­sions and ex­pe­ri­ences the var­i­ous travel prod­ucts. One of our key ini­tia­tives that will cut the travel time to many strate­gic at­trac­tions is the Sea­plane ser­vice. A trav­eller could use the sea­plane ser­vice and reach Mun­nar from Kochi in 20 mins in­stead of a four- hour road jour­ney,” he added.

Suman Billa Sec­re­tary Ker­ala Tourism

Anil Ku­mar Min­is­ter of Tourism Ker­ala

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