The Indo-Russian Travel and Tourism Fair was organised by the Russian House and the Honorary Consulate of Russia in Thiruvananthapuram with the support of the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala and the Government of Moscow concluded on 1 December 2022. The 3-day Indo-Russian Bilateral Fair was conducted to increase the number of tourists between the two countries.
Russia is becoming a favourite destination for Indian tourists. Before, Indians preferred to travel to Moscow and St Petersburg alone. Nowadays, other destinations are also becoming famous. Russia's winter tourism, Trans-Siberia Trains and Cultural Tourism are also famous among Indian tourists.
Similarly, the number of Russian tourists who visited Kerala in 2019 was about 36000, while more than 3.5 lakhs visited Goa. The beaches of Goa are the main attractions. Sri Lanka is Russians' favourite destination thanks to Ayurveda. Kerala can offer beaches and authentic Ayurveda, hill stations, backwaters and house boats. But our products need to be showcased before the genuine Russian tour operators. India was one of the five friendly nations recommended by the Russian government for the safe travel of its citizens. So, the time selected for the first Indo-Russian Travel and Tourism Fair was appropriate. With the support of the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, we managed present Kerala's tourism potential before leading tour operators from Russia.
Director of the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, Mr P.B. Nooh IAS, welcomed the Russian delegates on behalf of his department. He made an audio-visual presentation and highlighted the advantages of visiting Kerala. “India intends to take advantage of the situation in which several Western tourist routes turned out to be closed to Russian citizens. For decades, India and Russia have been cooperating in many fields. India, especially Kerala, was a major tourist destination for the Soviets. Today, we have more products to offer to visitors from our friendly country. Apart from beaches, Ayurveda, hill stations and houseboats will attract more Russian tourists,” said Mr P.B. Nooh. Consul General of The Russian Federation in Southern India, H.E. Mr Oleg Ovdeev, was also present.
The official inauguration of the Indo-Russian Travel and Tourism Fair was held on 30 November 2022 at the Udaya Palace Convention Centre, Kowdiar, Thiruvananthapuram. Hon’ble Minister for Public Works Department and Tourism, Government of Kerala, Adv. P.A. Mohammed Riyas, inaugurated the Travel and Tourism Fair.
In his address, the Minister stressed the importance of strengthening the relationship between Kerala and Russia in the field of tourism. “Friendly relations between India and Russia began centuries ago. Five hundred fifty years back, Russian traveller, Afanasy Nikitin came to India. He visited Calicut also. So this year, we are celebrating the 550th anniversary of Nikitin’s visit to Kerala and the Indo-Russian Friendship. The present geo-political situations favour us to attract more Russian tourists to Kerala,” said the Minister.
Principal secretary to the government, Mr K.S Srinivas IAS, presided over the function. He said the tourism department had taken necessary steps to promote Kerala in the Russian market.
Consul General of Russia in Southern India, H.E.Mr Oleg Ovdeev, said that the number of tourists from south India to Russia was also being increased year by year. The Director of the department of tourism government of Kerala, Mr P.B. Nooh IAS, welcomed the gathering. Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation and Director of the Russian House in Trivandrum, Mr Ratheesh C. Nair, introduced the concept of the Indo-Russian Travel and Tourism Fair. Mr Baby Mathew Somatheeram, president of the Kerala Travel Mart and Mr M.R.Narayanan, vice-president of the South Kerala Hoteliers’ Association, felicitated the occasion. Ms Kavitha Nair, deputy director of the Russian House, proposed the vote of thanks.
The inaugural function began with a cultural performance by artists from Kerala and concluded with a dance and music performance by the Moscow-based RUSY ensemble.
Consul General of the Russian Federation in Southern India, H.E Mr Oleg Ovdeev inaugurated the stalls. The entry to the exhibition pavilion at Carmel Convention Centre was restricted to the registered participants.1. TRAVEL FAIR AND B2B
24 Indian sellers including resorts, business hotels, tour operators and 4 Russian tour operators, Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala and Moscow Tourism participated in the exhibition with stalls. Leading hotel chains like Taj, O by Tamara, CGH Earth, Somatheeram Group, Tula and Ayurveda hospitals including Kottakkal Ayurveda Hospital, other hospital promoting medical tourism like KIMS and PRS, tour operators such as Kerala Travels, Great India Tours and Cosima Tour were a few among them. Leading Russian outbound companies like FUN AND SUN, LUXURY VOYAGES, MOS TOUR, GRAND RUS, TOURIST CLUSTER, St Petersburg also participated with stalls. 50 Indian and Russian sellers and buyers attended the fair with table space. More than 100 Indian tour operators also interacted with the Russian tour operators.2. RUSSIAN TOUR OPERATORS PARTICIPATED IN THE B2B
The B2B discussion was useful for the sellers in Kerala to introduce their products to the Russian markets through established tour operators. There were three categories of Russian tour operators present at the IRTTF 2022. Tour operators like Om Tour, India Tour had been working with Kerala but participated in the fair to expand their presence in the market by meeting the representatives of new hotels and resorts. The second group agents like Vedi Tour, Planeta and Intourist was already in the Indian market like Goa and the Golden Triangle but new to Kerala Tourism. Majority of the Russian tour operators comprised those who had been promoting European destinations, but unable to continue due to the present crisis.
KERALA’S AYURVEDA FOR RUSSIAN TOURISTS AND GET TO MOSCOW was organised on 01 December 2022.DAY 1. 12.00 ‘GET TO KNOW MOSCOW’
Representatives of the Moscow Government took part in the seminar. Ms Zlata Antusheva, Chief specialist of the division for the coordination of activities of the Department of External Economic and International Cooperation of the Moscow Government, Executive Secretary of the Business Council with India led the team. Representatives of Moscow Tourism and reputed Companies from Moscow city participated in the seminar with audio visual presentation.SEMINAR ‘KERALA’S AYURVEDA FOR THE RUSSIAN TOURISTS’
The seminar was held at 12.00. Ms Innesa Kartintseva , director General of OM TOUR inaugurated the seminar. She said Ayurveda had become a major attraction for the Russian tourists. “Ayurveda and Yoga are very popular in Russia. The number of Russian tourists going to Sri Lanka for Ayurveda has come down because of the economic crisis. Kerala, being the cradle of Ayurveda can attract more Russians, if properly marketed,” said Ms Kartintseva.
Mr Baby Mathew Somatheesram, a pioneer in the Ayurveda tourism delivered the key-note address.
Mr Igor Shishkin, Dy. Managing Director of Sber Bank India inaugurated the seminar. In his address, Mr Shishkin described how the presence of Sber Bank will be useful for easy transaction of money from the Russian tour operators to the Indian hoteliers. “The sanction imposed on the Russian banks and ban of Russian banks’ swifts are the issues faced by outbound and inbound tour operators in Russia. This can be solved by opening accounts with Sber bank or authorising Sber bank as the intermediatory bank,” said Mr Igor Shishkin.
Client Relations Manager of Sber Bank India Dr Leena Serrin, also participated with audio visual presentation.2. ‘MALABAR WELCOMES RUSSIANS’
Ms Rajini Menon, journalist, introduced the tourism potential of Malabar region in Kerala. In her address, Ms Menon, said that Malabar offered unexploited tourism destinations. Beaches, hill stations, lakes and the famous Mappila cousin attract foreigners to Malabar. The Monsoon of Wayanad also attracts tourists from all over the world.
Honorary Consul of Russia and Director of the Russian House in Trivandrum Mr Ratheesh Nair said that Kerala’s relations with Russia had begun with Malabar since Afanasy Nikitin visited Kozhikode.
The tour operators in India, especially Kerala got a chance to meet the representatives of regions like Moscow and St Petersburg Tourist Cluster and Inbound Russian tour operators. This will help them to revitalise their activities in the post-pandemic scenario.
Both the inbound and outbound tour operators in Russia got a chance to know more about different destinations in Kerala, products like Ayurveda, houseboats, Caravan tourism, hill stations, festivals and rituals etc.
The B2B helped the industry and trade in Kerala to meet their future partners without visiting Russia and taking part in the travel fairs there.
The Government of Moscow made a wonderful presentation of Russian cuisine on 28 November. Three masters preparing yummy authentic Russian delicacies were invited from Moscow for this unique event. They not only prepared dishes from various regions but also made presentations for the VIP guests gathered at the banquet hall of Hotel Hilton Garden.
The guests visited included the Chief Secretary to the Government of Kerala, Dr V.P. Joy IAS, three Members of Parliament (of India), the Director General of Police, Dr B. Sandhya, the State Transport Commissioner, Mr S. Sreejith IPS, Former Space Secretary and Chairman of ISRO, Padma Vibhushan Dr G.Madhavan Nair, Renowned filmmaker Padma Vibhushan Dr Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Metropolitan of Malankara Orthodox Church, H.H. Gabriel Mar Grigorios, famous writers, Chief Information Commissioner Mr Viswas Mehta IAS, State Election Commissioner Mr A. Shajahan, leading scientists like the director of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Bio-Technology Prof. Chandrabas Narayana, Chief General Manager of State Bank of India Mr Ramana, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and Industries, media personalities and other famous people representing different walks of life.