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    Form start-ups to tap global markets: Kerala CM to entrepreneurs

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    Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has suggested young entrepreneurs to set up start-up ventures in travel and tourism sector by tapping the potential of digital technology to foray into overseas markets that remained unreachable through traditional marketing tools.

    Inaugurating the country's first International Conference on Travel Technology (ICTT) at Kovalam near here Friday evening, Chandy said India, which is ranked 41st in terms of international tourist arrivals, has a long way to go to realise its full potential, given its natural and cultural attractions.

    "A key step forward, however, is the arrival of a large number of educated youth and qualified professionals in the industry which is driving innovation and growth. And technology is fuelling this surge of entrepreneurship by providing platforms to market their products and services.

    "Another significant aspect is that the emerging scenario enables micro-enterprises and individuals to reach out to their markets across the seas. A home stay in Kerala can now market itself just like one of the big hotel chains to its target audience in London or Sydney. In Kerala, we have a lot of entrepreneurs in the tourism sector and I'm sure technology will give them wings," the Chief Minister said.

    The event is being organised by the Association of Tourism Trade Organisations, India (ATTOI).

    Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor said one of the most important uses of the web for tourism business is review and response to customer feedback which is increasingly influencing travellers' decisions.

    "The real danger from the web is that it is an unmediated platform. Opinions can easily be doctored or manufactured. The best way to counter fake reviews is to put out correct information; alert hoteliers and destination managers must come up with quick responses," he said.

    State Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar said the Kerala has had a long standing policy of utilising the Internet for tourism promotion.

    "Our marketing strategy based on the Internet is headed the right way. IT has not just complemented our promotional activities, but has helped reduce expenditure and significantly lowered our consumption of print products," Kumar said.

    State's Tourism Secretary Suman Billa made a presentation on Kerala Tourism's initiatives in IT over the past few years.

    Some milestones over this period include 8.5 million visitors annually for the official Kerala Tourism website which also became the highest ranked web page on Google beating the likes of Taj Mahal; more than 3 lakh likes on the official Facebook page in the past three months alone and over 25,000 visitors to the Ayurveda blog in just three months.

    PTI

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