Kochi played host to South India Travel Awards, which was held at Crowne Plaza Kochi on May 2, 2017. Leaders and achievers from the travel and tourism industry of the region were rewarded for their hard work and sincere dedication. The gala evening saw in attendance high flyers from the tourism and hospitality industry from not just Kerala but the entire South India. Gracing the occasion with his presence as Chief Guest was Dr. A. Jayathilak (IAS), Chairman, Spices Board of India, Ministry of Commerce & Industry. Acknowledging how awards act as a catalyst for the industry to excel, he said, “It’s a great initiative because we need to identify and encourage talents of all kinds in this vibrant sector and any award of this kind will go a long way in stimulating and encouraging more talent to develop themselves and also to contribute more to the development of this industry.” India Travel Awards recognises stalwarts from the industry in all the regions pan India. These exclusive awards are based on a unique jury judgement and a final list is made after a fair online voting process. The formal black-tie event was attended by over 150 notable personalities from the South Indian Travel industry. Welcoming the guests for the award, SanJeet, Mentor, India Travel Awards, said that the awards acknowledge the consolidated efforts of the trade partners from the southern region owing to whom the travel industry has achieved a benchmark. “Every small hotel, restaurant, tourist attraction, or tourism outlet contributes towards the growth of this country. However, are we doing enough to recognise them? We have instituted these awards for this precise reason. The regional award recognises those establishments that contribute to the overall growth of the industry. We have come a long way since the first South India Travel Awards held in Hyderabad in 2014,” he said. The awards were divided into four different categories—Personal Awards, Business Awards, Trending Awards and Partner Awards. Talking about the voting process, SanJeet said, “The voting is carefully monitored to avoid duplication and ensure transparency. When the votes were finally opened for counting, we were surprised to learn that we have received votes form 12 different countries apart from India.” Adding a touch of glamour and elegance to the evening was the Guest of Honour Arni Sapkal, Gladrags Mrs India Mumbai, who handed over the trophies to the winners alongside Dr. Jayathilak. Awards were presented in a total of 47 categories in both travel and hospitality. K.C. Chandrahasan, Vice Chairman, Kerala Travels Interserve, received the coveted Gallery of Legends award, while M.P. Purushothaman, Chairman and Managing Director, Empee Group, was awarded the DDP Trailblazer Award.