KOCHI: For the first time, Kerala Tourism participated in the International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) in Tel Aviv, foraying into the largely untapped Israeli market in a bid to substantially increase footfalls from the Middle East country and forge durable bonds with its tourism sector.
Tourism director P Bala Kiran led the state delegation at the two-day IMTM 2019, the annual professional tourism fair of its kind in the eastern Mediterranean and the official and only professional exhibition for the tourism trade market in Israel.
Kerala Tourism launched a coffee table book, a first-of-its-kind visual odyssey of the Jews who decided to make Kerala their home before several of the diasporic community going back to Israel, their fatherland. The book was launched by Indian Ambassador to Israel Pavan Kapoor, who also visited the Kerala stall at the event.
Tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said Kerala needs to scout for new markets abroad to attract tourists in the highly competitive global marketplace. "Our participation in IMTM will act as a trigger to meet that objective," he said.
The minister said there is a direct flight from Tel Aviv, the second most populous city in Israel, to Delhi and Mumbai.
"Now a new direct flight will be launched this September from Tel Aviv to Kochi by Arkia Israeli Airlines, which will be a major boost to tourism in India in general and Kerala in particular," he added. As many as 15,339 Israeli tourists visited Kerala in 2018, an increase of 29 per cent as compared to 11,892 in 2017 and 10,922 in 2016, while it registered a surge of over 15 per cent in terms of tourist arrival from that country during 2013-18.