Mr. Kadakampally Surendran, Minister of Tourism, Government of Kerala, inaugurated the 13th Annual Convention of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI), organized on the theme of ‘Emerging Pathways’ in the presence of Mr. Satyajeet Rajan, Director General Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and Dr. V. Venu, Principal Secretary – Tourism, Government of Kerala.

With the aim to position India as the adventure capital of the world, ATOAI has proposed Ministry of Tourism, Government of India to declare 2018 as the Year of Adventure Tourism in India. Over 300 delegates from all over India have come together for the annual convention.

Speaking about the re-branding of Kerala, Mr. Kadakampally Surendran said: “Over the years, the tourism industry has been changed rapidly, with tourists preferring to go beyond the historic temples, monuments and modern sights. Interestingly, tourists these days prefer to explore hills, waterfalls and forests through indulging in adventurous activities. Henceforth, Kerala aims to be re-branded as ‘the land of adventure’ to woo the younger generation by offering activity and water-based tourism.”

“As part of developing the adventure tourism infrastructure, the tourism board plans to develop water and adventure parks for various action and water-based activities. Moreover, Kerala Tourism has planned to develop river circuit connecting eight rivers in Kannur and Kasaragod districts with an estimated cost of Rs. 325 crores”, he added.

The tourism industry is one of the major revenue generating sectors in Kerala, contributing a total revenue of Rs. 38,000 crores. Around 10.3 lakh foreign tourists and 1.32 crore domestic tourists visited Kerala in 2016.

Speaking about the development plans, Mr. P. Balakiran, Director, Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, stated: “The tourism department has been following a robust development plan to promote the adventure tourism as it can substantially contribute to the overall growth of the tourism sector. Moreover, the interest of travelers is increasingly gravitating towards adventure tourism offerings, including expanded worldview, nature & discovery, physical health, fun & thrills, unique and meaningful experiences. The activity-oriented tourism would help the State to achieve the target of doubling the foreign tourist arrivals and increasing domestic tourist arrivals by 50% by 2021.”

From trekking the hills to wildlife sanctuaries, India offers a plethora of adventurous activities to attract adventurous enthusiasts. India- an incredible tourist destination has high tourism potential to be explored by adventure seekers. Kerala is indeed India’s most happening destination offering an array of adventure packed destinations, including gushing rivers, high-altitude mountains, dense forests and vast stretches of the sea. The State is blessed with a wide range of natural and scenic beauty, which supports diversified adventure activities such as trekking, surfing, wildlife safaris, paragliding.

Speaking about the safety guidelines, Dr. Venu mentioned: “Northern Kerala has a lot of unexplored adventure tourism potential, which offers adventure enthusiasts a wide range of opportunities to unleash their adventurous spirit. However, Responsible Tourism will remain the guiding spirit of all developmental and promotional activities.”

With the aim to promote adventure tourism and increase the tourist footfall in the State, Kerala Tourism has inculcated several stringent safety guidelines for adventure tour operators. These guidelines have been developed in tune with international standards post discussion with various departments.

Speaking about the event, Capt. Swadesh Kumar, President, ATOAI, said: “Every country has some adventure to offer, but India is a country that offers almost every adventure and active holiday experience that one can seek. Even as the definition of adventure has expanded, India has upped its game to offer all this. From mostly a mountain and wildlife destination, the country now offers much more: Skiing, water rafting, treks, road trips, off-road adventure, biking, cycling, scuba diving, river cruising, angling, bungee jumping, ballooning, caving, birding, adventure parks, nature retreats, culture, food, mountaineering and more.”

The convention included sessions on how to achieve these goals, networking amongst delegates, exhibits by State tourism boards and industry players, and FAM trips and a day of adventure to showcase Kerala as a unique tourist destination. The event was attended by all stakeholders, including government, tourism boards, industry and experts for their contribution with the sole aim to develop India as the adventure capital of the world.

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