Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Tourism has kicked off a high-pitched promotional campaign in the Middle East, with road shows in Oman and Bahrain in a bid to boost foreign tourist arrivals in the state during the ‘Visit Kerala’ year.
The road show in Oman was held at the Grand Hyatt in the capital city of Muscat on November 23. In Bahrain, the road show took place at the Intercontinental Regency in Manama on November 25. “The Middle East is of special significance to us,” said Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar. “We have ties with the Gulf region dating back to centuries,” he said, adding Kerala attaches a lot of importance to visitors from the Middle East. “This is a region close to us also because of the large number of our people working in these countries,” Anilkumar said.
Kerala Tourism Director P I Sheik Pareeth, who led the state delegation to Oman and Bahrain, said the two road shows evoked tremendous response in the two countries. “The response from the trade in both the countries during the roadshows was highly encouraging,” Pareeth said. “It is after a gap of five years that Kerala Tourism has conducted roadshows in the Middle East region,” he added.
“The tourists from the Middle East are mainly focused on our products such as Ayurveda,” said the Tourism Director. “There is also high demand for luxury accommodation and facilities,” he added.
In Oman, representatives from over 30 leading tour operating companies participated in the road show in Muscat, while representatives from over 40 leading tour operating companies participated in the Manama road show.
The plans of Oman and Bahrain governments to expand air connectivity to Kerala are expected to provide a huge boost to tourist arrivals from the Middle East. The international airports in Muscat and Salalah are currently undergoing development and will soon serve as the gateway to international travel. Visa on Arrival facility is currently available to visitors from Oman at all airports in Kerala. Oman has also plans to start new flight to Kerala. “This will serve Muscat as another hub in the Middle East and will, in turn, help Kerala to gain better connectivity for visitors to our state,” said Pareeth.
According to the Kerala Tourism Director, the warm equitable climate of the state and the monsoon seasons are key factors that would draw tourists from the Middle East to Kerala. “The visitors from the region are also interested in benefitting from Ayurveda,” he added.
‘With the ‘Visit Kerala’ promotional campaign on a war-footing, I am sure that there will be huge increase in arrivals from these countries,” Pareeth said.
Mohammed Al Riyami from the Ministry of Tourism of Oman also attended the roadshow in Muscat. Last year, Omani tourist arrivals in Kerala were 17,239 and Bahraini tourist arrivals 3,674. Oman is one of the top three outbound tourism markets for Kerala in the Middle East. As many as 14 trade partners from Kerala attended the roadshows in both countries.