Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Tourism's Kumarakom Responsible Tourism Initiative has won the Best Responsible Tourism Award at the World Travel Market London 2017 (WTM).
This year, the awards focused on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in: best for accommodation, best for carbon reduction, best for communication, best community initiative, best for poverty reduction and best tour operator.
More than 600 women, 500 farmers and 230 homesteads are making money through Kerala's Responsible Tourism initiative: through self-employment, producer groups, micro-enterprises and innovative village life experience tours. The judges were impressed by the scale of the achievement in securing benefits for the local community and the zero waste and cleanliness campaigns. The judges were also impressed by the new state-level Responsible Tourism Mission and the efforts being made to extend the initiative across Kerala to benefit many more communities and to measure and report impacts.
The Kerala delegation, led by tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran, conducted a special session on Kerala’s Responsible Tourism Mission on November 6.
“Owing to the tremendous growth of Indian tourism industry, there is an immediate need to invest and focus on sustainable tourism practices across the world to conserve India’s vibrant heritage. Kerala Tourism has always been on a forefront to promote tourism in a responsible manner,” said Kadakampally Surendran.
“Recently, Kerala Tourism initiated a first of its kind initiative in India- PEPPER (People’s Participation for Planning and Empowerment through Responsible Tourism), aimed at promoting unexplored and pristine destinations through people’s participation in the process of tourism planning.” minister added.
The tourism minister also launched AyurBodha, an initiative of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) to highlight the significance of Ayurvedic practices to attract tourists from across the globe, at the meet.
The Kerala Pavilion at the KTM was themed around backwaters and houseboats. The pavilion received overwhelming response. The WTM’s location added to its importance as the UK is the primary source market for Kerala Tourism. Kerala received 1,55,548 tourists from the UK last year, accounting for 17 per cent of the total foreign tourist arrivals to the state.