Kochi: Kochi has become the first city in India to be a member of Beijing-headquartered World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) Council, with the Kerala Tourism Department accepting the Council's invitation to join its league of leading tourism cities across the world.
Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany handed over the membership acceptance document to Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng at a function here today in the presence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson, Kerala Tourism Secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao and Tourism Director P I Sheik Pareeth.
State Principal Secretary for IT and Industries P H Kurian and Former Secretary T Balakrishnan also attended the function.
Speaking on the occasion, Yucheng said the two regions need to explore the possibilities for partnerships in culture, sports and tourism as there are many striking similarities between their cultures, like the cuisine, martial arts and snake and dragon boat races.
The Chinese Ambassador also expressed interest in bringing investment from China to Kerala's tourism sector, especially for construction of an entertainment city and an oceanarium.
He urged the government to convene a meeting of tour operators of both countries while agreeing to support Kerala's efforts to increase inflow of Chinese tourists to the state. He also responded positively to Kerala's request to facilitate chartered flights from China to the state.
Chandy said the state government would send a detailed proposal to Beijing on various investment possibilities in Kerala, including in the tourism sector.