Kochi has the distinction of becoming the first Indian city to be granted membership of Beijing-headquartered World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) Council with Kerala’s Tourism Department accepting the 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 held at Kochi in the presence of Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, chief secretary Jiji Thomson, Kerala tourism secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao and tourism director PI Sheik Pareeth.
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 the cultures of China and Kerala, especially the cuisine, martial arts and snake and dragon boat races.”
The Chinese ambassador also expressed interest in bringing investments from his country to Kerala’s tourism sector, particularly for construction of an entertainment city and an oceanarium. He also urged the government to convene a meeting of tour operators of both the 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 Kerala.
Chandy said, “The state government would send a detailed proposal to Beijing on various investment possibilities in Kerala, including the tourism sector.
Jiji Thomson noted that Kochi’s membership of WTCF, which has 135 members the world over, is a new milestone for the Kerala government and the tourism department. “The new partnership offers tremendous growth opportunities to Kerala’s tourism sector,” he pointed out.
The government sought Yucheng’s support to bring in Chinese film production companies to India, especially to Kerala, given the state’s scenic locations, good connectivity and hotel room density. It also raised the issue of lack of Chinese language guides in Kerala and also suggested possible cooperation in training Indian guides in Chinese language.
WTCF is a non-profit, non-governmental international organisation voluntarily formed by tourism cities and organisations of various countries and regions from around the world. The WTCF was founded in Beijing on September 15, 2012, and is the first international tourism organisation to focus on cities in the world.