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April 1, 2010

Kerala tourist operators kick off 'Dream Season'

     Kochi: Tourist hotspot Kerala, known the world over for its beauteous backwaters and wildlife, kick-started its 'Dream Season' package for tourists on Thursday. The aim of the 'Dream Season' is to attract as many tourists as possible during the April-October period when there is a slight dip in international tourist arrivals. Tour operators say the period from April to September is a good time to attract domestic tourists. "Kerala has been getting a lot of international tourists as well as domestic tourists. Among the domestic tourists, there is a perception that Kerala is a bit expensive destination. Primarily, we have positioned Kerala as a destination for the high-end market. So we have a scheme called the 'Dream Season Scheme', which practically starts from April right upto October that is the period when schools have holidays, and offices are closed due to festival and all, and that is the period when Indians travel a lot," said M. Sivasankar, Director of Kerala Tourism Department. Last year's provisional figures show a two percent increase in domestic tourist arrivals, which would work out to 9.12 million. The foreign tourist arrivals were almost seven million, officials said. Last year's Dream Season saw 116 service providers registering themselves with the Kerala Tourism Department. Of this, there were 16 hotels, 44 tour operators, and 29 resorts, plus houseboats and Ayurveda centres. The Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry said it was wholeheartedly supporting the scheme, which has now entered its fourth year. E. M Najeeb, President, Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry and Chairman, Great India Tour Company, said efforts would be on to present Kerala as a dream destination on national and international platforms. "It (Dream Season's scheme) is a private-public (enterprise) between Kerala tourism and the private tourism and the industry players in Kerala, the tour operators, the hoteliers, the other tour product players. We work together to present our product all over the country as well as all over the world in international travel and tourism marts, as well as national and international trade fairs, everywhere together to attract maximum number of tourists to Kerala," Najeeb said. Najeeb said Kerala has for long banked on its backwater cruise industry to attract foreign tourists, and it was the right time to offer more innovative products, including 'beach tourism'. "The beach product is actually increasing the interest in beaches and for beach tourism, especially for the Europeans. You know, if there is a beach and if we offer some good facilities, you see, people will always love it," he added. Kerala's 600-kilometre-long coastline is dotted with picturesque beaches, rocky promontories and coconut palms.
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