Airlines summit calls for stronger connectivity to boost development in Kerala

Representative Image | Photo: Biju Varghese/Mathrubhumi

Thiruvananthapuram: The country's deep-south region must host a flurry of variety events, brand its traditional festivals and nurture niche tourism to boost local connectivity, a pioneering meet of 30-plus airlines exhorted on Friday.

Small aircraft with busy schedules must grow as a new travel culture in Kerala and adjoining Tamil Nadu even as the two States must groom an integrated surface transport system, speakers said at 'TVM and Connectivity Summit' organised by Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI).

Kerala Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas emphasised on 'connectivity' as the State has been recording resurgence in travel after fierce spells of COVID-19.

"The first quarter of 2022-23 clocked a 72.48 per cent rise in domestic travel, with Thiruvananthapuram district alone registering 6.9 lakh tourists," he said. Pointing out that Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta offer scope for a wide range of tourism activities, the minister stressed the need to galvanise business meets and wellness packages in these three districts. "With safe journey, accommodation and food that we continue to offer in the post-pandemic era, tourism is back on its path to recovery in Kerala," he added.

Kerala Transport Minister Antony Raju, speaking on 'Growth-focused Integrated Transport System', pointed out the vitality of waterways as a popular means of travel in the coastal State with its rivers, backwaters and canals.

The summit, with focus on the three Kerala districts along with Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli of southern Tamil Nadu, sought to turn a new chapter in their connectivity, considering the "immense potential" this belt possessed across domains.

Shashi Tharoor, MP, who chaired the opening session of the event, pointed out that air routes in Kerala remain under-served even as the State has as many as four airports. "We are yet to fulfil the potential of tourism using increased connectivity," he said, citing the possible promotion of air travel between his constituency of Thiruvananthapuram and native Palakkad, 300 km north. Such short-distance flying facilities exist in Europe, USA and East Asia, he pointed out, citing how they have contributed to economic growth.

Adani Group Vice President (Finance) Jeet Adani spoke on how collective and dedicated efforts by stakeholders can promote the southern Indian region's exotic locations, Ayurveda and wellness. "Strengthening of the knowledge economy, building the health infrastructure and developing the exciting entertainment infrastructure are equally important," he noted. PTI

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