Kochi: Kochi become the first city in India to be enrolled as a member of Beijing-based World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) Council. Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany handed over the membership acceptance document to China's Ambassador to India Le Yucheng in the presence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at a function held here on Monday.
The WTCF is a non-profit, non-governmental international organisation voluntarily formed by tourism cities and organisations from around the world. On the occasion, the Chinese ambassador said his country and Kerala need to explore the possibilities for partnerships in culture, sports and tourism as there were many striking similarities between the two regions like cuisine, martial arts and snake and dragon boat races.
He also expressed interest in bringing investment from China to Kerala's tourism sector especially for construction of an entertainment city and an oceanarium. The ambassador 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.
Le Yucheng added that his country and Kerala had ties which go back a couple of centauries. The Chinese Fishing nets that dot the sea side are a reminder of the legacy, he said. Talking to the media, Yucheng said that it would be interesting to hold contests between Chinese Dragon boats and Snake boats of Kerala and between Kalaripayattu practitioners and Kung Fu masters.
Chandy said the state government will send a detailed proposal to Beijing on various investment possibilities in Kerala including in the tourism sector. State chief secretary Jiji Thomson said the city's membership of the WTCF, which has 135 members world over, was a new milestone as this new partnership offers tremendous growth opportunities to Kerala's tourism sector.
The government also sought the envoy'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.
With inputs from Agencies