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Kerala gets serious about Responsible Tourism

Kerala Tourism has renewed their promise of Responsible Tourism with the launching of The "Responsible Tourism Mission" - an initiative towards rural and community development through tourism. A positive step towards a positive goal. Communication and participation of stakeholders is key. Not just the community, but even all private players and relevant authorities need to be included in the plan and implementation.

Article on the launch, courtesy Travel Trends Today

The Responsible Tourism initiatives in the state woke up to a new dawn, with the Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan launching the dedicated Mission for it. The world's first Responsible Tourism Mission is all set to lead Kerala Tourism through people-friendly, local community-friendly and environment-friendly, initiatives ensuring rural development, employment opportunities and women empowerment.

Kadakampally Surendran, Minister of Tourism, presided over the function. K Suresh Kurup MLA and Jose K Mani were the chief guests of the function. Dr Venu V, Principal Secretary, Kerala tourism delivered the welcome speech and P Bala Kiran, Director of Tourism presented the Responsible Tourism Mission project. K Rupesh Kumar, coordinator, State Responsible Tourism Mission announced the new Responsible tourism destinations.

Inaugurating the Responsible Tourism Mission of the state, Vijayan said, “Waste management should be a prime consideration in any development programme. The tourist spots and places around the state should be kept clean at all times without asking for additional cost. The tourism department should make enough arrangements to accommodate the n number of tourists coming in to the state. One needs to appreciate Responsible Tourism completely for it is a source of support for the local communities. There are lot of countries around the world who has made profit through tourism. Hence, the same level of importance should be given here.”

With a bunch of new projects under the new mission, the state aims at expanding Responsible Tourism across the state by incorporating a set of new destinations. Currently it is carried out only in seven destinations in the state, viz. Kumarakom, Thekkady, Vythiri, Ambalavayal, Kumbalangi, Bakel and Kovalam.

Surendran said, “To be the pioneer state in practicing the concept of Responsible Tourism in the entire country is a proud moment. The government policy is to make Tourism more popular. Apart from improving the functioning of the elite class, the government also aims to use tourism as a tool for village development and women empowerment. Their aim is to make Responsible Tourism more beneficial to the localities. It feels proud to see the mission that started off in Kumarakom as a pilot project in 2008 and is very happy and proud about this. The Government moves forward aiming to bring in more job opportunities and income generation to the localities”

The Mission takes Responsible Tourism to all 14 districts. The government plans to create 1,50,000 employment opportunities in the tourism sector alone through the Responsible Tourism Mission, in a span of five years. The selected destinations for the Responsible Tourism plan are mostly areas that are covered by backwater, sea, wildlife, heritage and diversity in areas comprising natural beauty. The scheme is being implemented with the primary objective of ensuring extra income and livelihood for agricultural laborers, traditional industrial workers and marginalised communities in these areas and to give equal importance to the social-environmental parity.

Venu V said, “It’s a proud moment for all of us. Responsible Tourism that started off in Kumarakom is now a world renowned concept and a point of discussion across the globe. It’s definitely a proud moment for us to be a pioneer in setting up this concept so effectively. Within a span of nine years, 16 crores is the profit Kumarakom could gain through tourism. Around 1.16 crore revenue is generated by the localities. The reason behind this growth is the involvement as a group by the communities around. The aim of RT is to create 1.5 lakh jobs in the future.”

Vocational training will be provided to at least 50,000 local natives. This year, as a part of Responsible Tourism, at least 20 Village Life Experience Packages will be opened. It has been proven that Village tourism packages attract a lot of tourists because of the conventional experience of rope-making, handloom, earthenware and toddy tapping in these packages.

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