CIAL, metro leg-up for Kochi

Air connectivity, congestion-free traffic attract global meets to city.

Kochi: The rapidly increasing connectivity offered by Cochin international airport to national and international destinations coupled with the less-congested city traffic thanks to the metro has catapulted Kochi as a favourite spot for international and domestic conferences.

At present, Kochi is connected to 23 Indian cities against 17 last year. The currently connected domestic cities are Agathi, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Bangalore, Mumbai, Mysore, Kolkata, Kannur, Delhi, Guwahati, Goa, Hubli, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Chennai, Nagpur, Pune, Tirupati, Thiruvanantha-puram, Tiruchirappalli and Visakhapatnam. Kochi is also connected to 17 international destinations: Adu Dhabi, Bahrain, Bangkok, Colombo, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Male, Muscat, Riyadh, Salalah, Sharjah, Singapore and Tel Aviv. Through Middle East, Kochi is connected to cities all over the world also.

"Kochi's increased air connectivity has become the biggest advantage for holding conferences here," says Dinesh Rai, general manager of the newly-opened Hotel Four Points by Sheraton, Infopark, Kochi. "Availability of a lot of spacious convention centres adds to Kochi's advantage. The placid backwaters, beaches, heritage and misty Munnar and Thekkady in striking distance add to the charm."

"Those coming for conferences always spare two days or a week before or after the conference. Hence Kochi certainly is in the league of Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur in the respect of conferences. Chains like ours are setting up shops here because of this," said Mr Rai.

According to Shrikant Wakharkar, general manager, Grand Hyatt, Bolgatty, Kochi, the connectivity of Kochi to tier-II cities is a big boost for it in the conference circuit. "Connectivity to Middle East is another factor. We have hosted eight large conferences in less than one year of opening. Many more are in Kochi's way. The serene environs for travel and tourism are to its advantage," he said.

Mr Wakharkar said Kochi is becoming a wedding destination as well with many diamond and gold merchants and other high-profile traders across India and abroad already picking it as their dream spot in this regard. "The smooth road traffic in Kochi compared to metros is also to its advantage. Once the Kochi metro is extended further with ample connectivity from Aluva station to airport by air-conditioned buses, there will be further boost in its profile,” he said.

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