Kochi Biennale is Kerala's new bandwagon to promote tourism

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Tourism is all set to leverage the internationally acclaimed Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) to woo art-loving tourists to the 'God's Own Country' through a series of road shows abroad, especially in Europe.

The KMB, a nearly four-month-long festival of visual arts and the biggest in South Asia, was the flagship product showcased in the first of a series of such road shows held last week in Spain, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Russia.

A three-minute film on the contemporary art event, launched by the state's Tourism Department, triggered an enthusiastic response in Barcelona (Spain), Prague (Czech Republic), St Petersburg (Russia) and Kiev (Ukraine), a government press release said.

Usually, biennales are major international events and attract a lot of artists and other creative people from across the world and drive up the tourist footfalls.

"The road shows will help us showcase the heritage and traditions of Kerala to a wider number of travelers.”

“We have an unmatched tradition and heritage of Ayurveda that brings tourists in droves from Russia, Germany and several other countries," Kerala Tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said.

The KMB would certainly be an alluring product for the new age travelers as well as art cognoscenti from both India and abroad, he added.

Tourism principal secretary Venu V said the road shows showcasing the biennale got a rousing response in Barcelona and St Petersburg.

Venu, who recently led a delegation to Barcelona and St Petersburg, the second largest city of Russia, said people in the two famous European cities had heard about KMB.

Kerala, known for its natural beauty, lush rolling hills and Ayurveda, is much sought after destination by Russian tourists and the state is the seventh biggest originating market with 32,726 arrivals registered in 2015.

Spain is another country where Kerala is being aggressively promoted.

The registered arrivals from Spain to Kerala were put at 14,187 during 2015.

Over 71 buyers attended the show in Barcelona, 70 in Prague and 80 in St. Petersburg.

Most of the tour operators in these cities, who were fairly excited, said they would include the KMB in their itinerary for their next set of packages.