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Positive Response to Kerala NRI Meet
Saturday, December 20, 2008

Kerala Tourism’s investment meet for nonresident Keralites ‘Ente Naadu’ has received tremendous response from the Gulf region, according to the organisers.  Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan will inaugurate the two-day meet to be held at The Le Meridien in Kochi on Tuesday in the presence of Home and Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

Federal Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi is the chief guest at the event. Prominent participants include former chief minister Oommen Chandy, ministers Elamaram Kareem, KP Rajendran, NK Premachandran, Mons Joseph, S Sharma; eminent NRKs like Capt Krishnan Nair of The Leela, MA Yusuf Ali of Lulu, Ravi Pillai, Dr Mohammed Ali of Galfar, Dr Azad Moopen, Abdul Wahab MP, MP Purushothaman and Gokulam Gopalan.
 “We initially were expecting investment proposals worth Rs5bn. It has now crossed Rs10bn and at least 600 delegates have already confirmed their participation in the meet,” said TK Manzoor, the event’s convener and managing director of the state-owned Tourist Resorts (Kerala) Limited.  “Delegates are coming from 42 countries including relatively unknown countries for Malayali migrants like Cameroon, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia and Finland.”

Majority of the potential investors are coming from the Gulf countries. The largest contingent is from the UAE (143) followed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (54), Bahrain (30), Kuwait (27), Qatar (23), UK (23) and Oman (20).
Some 200 delegates are Malayalis settled in other parts of the country. “We have short-listed some 75 projects to be developed jointly by the investors and the local entrepreneurs, requiring investments ranging from Rs10mn to Rs3bn. The TRKL will act as a facilitator for viable projects,” Manzoor said. 

The projects were short-listed from some 200 proposals received from the local entrepreneurs. The proposals include hill resorts, island resorts, farm tourism, eco tourism, medical tourism, wax museum, heritage museum, homestays, houseboats, service apartments, ayurveda health resorts and convention centers.  “The projects include the new and the existing ones that require funds for expansion and diversification. The government will also make land available for the projects,” he said.  The TRKL has already collaborated with the hotel chain Taj to set up Taj Garden Retreat in Kumarakom and Varkala and Taj Residency in Ernakulam.

 “This is a golden opportunity for the nonresidents to have a stake in the state’s booming tourism industry. A new program roping in the NRIs as the brand ambassadors of the God’s Own Country will also be launched at the meet,” Manzoor said.  The Malayali Tourism Brand Ambassador Program provides on-line opportunities for NRKs to earn special privileges and incentives for motivating people of their adopted country to visit Kerala. The NRK meet is jointly organised by the Department of Tourism and the State Industries Department.

The TRKL is the nodal agency for the event. Partners of the initiative include Nonresident Keralite Affairs Department (NORKA), Kerala State Industrial Development Corp (KSIDC), Kerala Financial Corp (KFC), Kerala Tourism Development Corp (KTDC) and the State Public Relations Directorate (PRD). “Bring A Friend Home is an a programme which encourages NRKs to bring foreigners to Kerala for which they will be rewarded by a cashless scheme. The Government also plans to ensure the participation of NRKs in public-private joint ventures in the State and it would locate the areas possible for starting such ventures,” he said.  The meet will feature presentations and panel discussions on tourism marketing, investment involving tourism officials, industry experts and government bodies. Public-Private partnership presentations and interactive sessions are also part of the agenda.



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