Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 17 (IANS) The huge Kerala diaspora settled across the globe can get a free holiday to their hometown if they recommend tourists to visit the state.
Titled as “Bring Home a Friend”, the latest offering from Kerala Tourism was launched Wednesday night by Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
“Keralites living abroad have to first register with Kerala Tourism on the website www.keralatourism.org/bhf. We will give a surprise gift to those who register. And once registered, they can suggest friends living abroad to visit Kerala. If the friend makes a trip to the state, they will get points, which can be redeemed with us for even a fully paid holiday,” said Balakrishnan.
Speaking to IANS, Tourism Director M. Sivasankar said the nitty gritty of the programme for the diaspora are being worked out.
“Once a guest gets in touch with us through the reference made by our diaspora, the guests’ name is forwarded to three registered tour operators in the state, who will give a holiday plan for the guests.
“If the plan is selected and the recommended guests visit the state as a tourist, a set number of points are given to the diaspora who has recommended them,” said Sivasankar.
The tourism department is working out various packages that will be offered to the diaspora who recommend tourists and it includes a free holiday, which will even take care of the airfare of the diaspora, besides a small holiday in a premium resort in the state.
Kerala Tourism in the past few years has launched an aggressive marketing campaign across the world and this is the latest one to promote tourism in the state.
“In the past five years, the number of foreign tourists have doubled, while domestic tourism grew a healthy 45 percent to touch 8.5 million in the last calendar year. Our focus area is brand building and it has paid rich dividends during this period by winning a record 19 international awards and 23 national awards in the field of tourism,” added Sivasankar.
Another new product “Audio Guide” launched Wednesday was a tie up with Vodafone where anyone wishing to know details about a destination in the state can dial “9048755555” (local charges applicable). At the moment, the product provides information on 25 destinations.
“We will keep on increasing the number of destinations in the coming months,” added Sivasankar.