Shopping in Kerala for the next 45 days will be a different experience with the launch of sixth edition of Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF), aimed at attracting more tourists and making the state an international shopping destination.
The event, which got underway on Saturday, was first held in 2007 and organised by the state Tourism Department with an objective of developing Kerala as a 'Shopping Tourism' destination.
GKSF attempts to transform Kerala, from merely a consumer state, into an international shopping destination, state Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar said here.
"The Golden Fest of God's Own Country" will be an apt tag for the GKSF that concludes on January 31, 2013," he said.
The average tourism spending by visitors to Kerala stands dismally low at five per cent as against a global average tourism spending of 15 per cent, he said.
The current GKSF season aims at luring tourists towards shopping in a big way and thus raise the average tourism spending to global levels, in a phased manner, he said.
"This time so far 7,000 big and small traders have registered which is about 2000 more than last year," GKSF Director U V Jose said.
Total business turnout during the GKSF last year was around Rs.
1,000 crores and "we expect that amount to go up this year," he said.
The event conducted with the support of the state's trade and commerce sector is considered to be the second biggest shopping season in Kerala after the Onam Festival.
Participating merchant establishments form the backbone of the festival and by uniting under the GKSF umbrella, the effort is to turn Kerala into "one single shopping mall" for the entire season, Jose said.
Being primarily a tourism-targeted event, GKSF's focus this time is to bring in more tourism and allied business into the festival.
Homestays and houseboat services had singed up for the event and a large number of tour operators had been taking advantage of the visibility and promotion that the event provides, he said.
To promote "shopping tourism" in Kerala, a nationwide campaign was held with road shows in eight states - Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
One of the novelties of Season Six GKSF, in particular for tourists, is the inclusion of high-quality Kerala handicrafts and handloom products as prizes.
Shoppers from outside the state are being offered incentives such as a 100 per cent refund on VAT for items they buy from Kerala.