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`Kochi can be major convention city'

Our Bureau

Mr Jehangir Katgara, President, TAAI (right), with Mr Balbir Mayal, Vice-President, during the 51st annual convention of TAAI in Kochi on Thursday.

KOCHI, Sept. 19

THE Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) is planning to highlight Kochi as a major `convention destination' in view of the existence of major hotels in the city, Mr Jehangir N. Katgara, President of the Association, has said.

Kochi has the carrying capacity to hold international conventions and this would provide Kerala a big leap forward in the global tourism map.

Access to the international airport and new highway connections in the State have added to the city's potential as an important convention destination, he added.

Mr Katgara was here in connection with the 51st annual convention of the Association to be held here on September 20-23 at the Galfar International Convention Centre.

More than 1,200 delegates are expected to participate in the convention, which would be inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Mr A.K. Antony.

Mr Katgara said that Air Sahara is landing in Kochi for the first time with delegates from New Delhi and Goa.

Apart from India, there will also be delegates from nine countries including Australia, Switzerland and Oman.

The Oman delegation comprising Government officials and tourism authorities are planning to forge an alliance with the State Government in promoting tourism-related activities, he said.

Kochi has been chosen for this year convention in view of the presentation made by the Kerala Tourism Department officials - at the 50th convention held in Mumbai last year - on the tourism potential of the State.

"Earlier, there was lack of convention facilities in the State. But things have changed and the State has become a most favoured destination thanks to the efforts made by the Tourism Department and the State Government."

Mr Balbir Mayal, Vice-President of the Association, said that the aim of the conference would be evolve solutions through debate to cope with the changing challenges in the future.

He added that since tourism was a sunshine industry, it had the capacity to bounce back. "TAAI's motto is to work with optimism towards this.''

TAAI has been very proactive and supported the Union Government's and State Governments in their efforts to encourage domestic and inbound tourism.

The detrimental increase in entrance fees payable by foreign tourists to visit monuments, the improvement of tourist infrastructure - especially the road network - and the rationalisation of State and Central taxes are some of the issues TAAI is currently grappling with, he added.

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