The first phase of packages for foreign tourists was launched by Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar here yesterday. It will be followed by another phase for domestic tourists.

"The public-private partnership in our state's tourism sector has been demonstrating to the world the huge benefit sin working together. The new alliance of tour operators in Kerala is yet another example of the commitment to promote tourism and contribute to the growth of all sections of the society," he said.

The consortium aims to sell an 500 packages. The new organisation comes nearly two decades after the state launched the country's only travel trade show Kerala Travel Mart.

The highlight of the packages, called 'Navaratana Experiessential Holidays', is a nine days of essential experiences in Kerala, including an insight into village life, community interactions and promotion of sustainable tourism practises.

The government's plan allocation to the tourism fund has been increased from Rs 100 crore to Rs 225 crore in the course of five years. This will be further increased in the coming budget session," Anil Kumar said.

"It is for the first time in India that tour operators are gathering under one umbrella for joint promotion of a package," he added.

The move is expected to support the industry partners. "Coming out of the comforts of the hotel room and car and to taking a plunge into the Kerala life is the motto of the new packages," said Kerala Tourism Secretary Jyothilal.

ATTOI president P K Anish Kumar said it was a collective and focused effort to promote the destination.

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