Kerala attracts tourists from frozen Europe with VoA

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Trivandrum: Kerala’s balmy tropical weather and lush green landscapes beckon travellers from Northern Europe hit by whiteouts and freezing in sub-zero winter temperatures. Kerala Tourism’s stall highlighting the sunny warmth of ‘God’s Own Country’ set off huge excitement at the prestigious MATKA Nordic Travel Fair 2014 which was held from January 16-19 at Helsinki, Finland, where temperatures are currently at a frigid minus 15 degrees.

Unfolding its niche products and bewitching beauty, Kerala drew keen interest among the steady stream of visitors and trade members drawn from across the globe to the fair, touted as the busiest travel fete in Northern Europe with almost 1,100 exhibitors from 70 countries.

Thanks to the newly-introduced tourist visa-on-arrival (T-VoA) facilities at the Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram airports, Kerala is now an alluring gateway to the European travellers visiting India.

“The participation at the fair is proving as the right platform for Kerala Tourism to highlight the T-VoA facility to a wider audience at a global stage. We hope that Europe can be the springboard for our future growth in tourist arrivals,” said Tourism Minister Shri A P Anil Kumar.

Tourism Secretary Suman Billa said plans are afoot to tap the potential of the Scandinavian market maximum by targeting the countries individually and together through such fairs and road shows. “Finland is a highly prospective market for us. The tourist arrivals from Finland have doubled over the last five years to reach 5,160 in 2012,” he informed.

Tourism Director S Harikishore is leading the Kerala delegation which has representation from industry partners like Pioneer Personalized Holidays, Somatheeram Ayurveda Group and CGH Earth.

“The response is exciting and we definitely hope that this will be converted into business in the coming years,” said Harikishore, who held a series of meetings with key trade leaders and media representatives at the fair.

T-VoA is currently available for citizens of 11 countries – 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.

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