State Affairs

Kochi Muziris Biennale boosts flagging tourism economy

KOCHI: Solar café, a sought-after eatery across the road from the coastal police station at Fort Kochi, was a hive of activity over the past three months when its business spiked by nearly 40%, as the ‘Biennale crowd’ — those who came to take part in and see the Kochi Muziris Biennale-2016 — streamed in to have a bite.

Umer Farook, its owner, vouched that the rush was heavy and steady, especially during lunch time. The restaurant, its walls adorning poems, stacked everything from local meals to continental snacks to cater to both Indian and foreign customers, reports The Hindu.

The stall put up by Kudumbasree near Aspinwall House, the mother space of the art event, was another busy joint.

Homestays and hotels in and around Fort Kochi and Mattancherry had been sold out months ahead of KMB-2016 getting under way in December, with more tourists from north India arriving than usual. Taxi and auto drivers too remained busy, ferrying passengers across venues.

Spice shop owner Aamir Sohail is among the traders who realised the business potential of the ‘Biennale season’ after he made friends with a Moroccan artist participating in the maiden edition of the KMB in 2012.

This time around, he showed the thumbs up to the three-month-long art show by offering a rebate of up to 15% in the season, something of a relief amidst an otherwise dismal tourism scenario.

“For a juicewallah to do well, it’s not necessary that customers come all the way from London or New York. It’s enough if people arrive from Ernakulam or any other part of the country,” Kochi Biennale Foundation secretary Riyas Komu said, hinting at the thrust the art show has given to domestic tourism.

In fact, the just-concluded edition of the biennale saw a steep rise in the number of domestic tourists from up North besides international tourists besides the heavyweights of the global art world.

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