Thiruvananthapuram, September 2019: Kerala Institute of Travel & Tourism Studies, the state’s premier institution to train manpower for the travel, tourism and related hospitality industries is 30 years old. To mark the occasion KITTS and the state’s nodal tourism department hosted a 2-day International conference which brought to one platform, a galaxy of national and global experts in a wide spectrum of subjects from heritage and adventure tourism to gastronomy tourism, luxury tourism, wellness, cruise and MICE tourism – and the underlying technologies.
KITTS director, Dr Rajashree Ajith, traced the history of the institution which coincidentally, is housed in a heritage site – the old British residency of the princely Travancore state.
Inaugurating the conference yesterday, the Kerala state governor, Arif Mohammed Khan, signposted contemporary concerns and challenges facing the tourism industry – like safety & security – and the need to ensure that the sector remained free from scourges like drug trafficking. He urged KITTS to conduct studies into the social and cultural impact of tourism to ensure such activities were harmonious with traditional ways of life.
Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran, stressed that tourism needed to benefit the local people – and lauded initiatives like Grameen ( village) tourism and responsible tourism. The Tourism sector has been spectacularly successful in the state, having attracted over 15 million visitors and generated Rs 36 crores in revenue, employing 25 lakh persons.
Hae Guk Hwang, Deputy Director for APAC, UN World Tourism Organisation, felicitated KITTS on its significant contributions to the industry, by providing skilled and trained manpower.
In the opening session, a retrospective journey—30 years of Kerala Tourism –E M Najeeb, Sr Vice President Indian Association of Tour Operators, steered a nostalgic discussion by past and present leadership of the industry including T Balakrishnan, Former Secretary and Director Tourism, Dr V Venu, Additional Chief Secretary Revenue and a former Secretary Tourism, and Rani George, the current Secretary Tourism and KC Chandrahasan, Vice Chairman, Kerala Travels Interserve. Ms Rani George highlighted current initiatives like the Muziris, Alappuzha and Thalassery heritage projects, the Biennale arts conclaves and recent outreaches like the Jatayu Earth Centre—the largest bird sculpture in the world.
The conference ends today, having celebrated the unique and highly successful model of tourism that has evolved in Kerala, where public and provide agencies have joined hand to put the state on the global list of ‘ must see’ destinations.