Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Tourism's Barrier-Free Tourism Project has won global recognition with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) making a special mention of the south Indian state as an "Emerging Global Destination" in the Accessible Destination Awards 2019.
Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran received the conferment from UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili at the awards ceremony in Madrid on Wednesday, a press release said.
The recognition was for the implementation of the project in the central Kerala district of Thrissur, which thus became India's only destination to win the honour.
The awards were given away in the Spanish capital as part of FITUR Trade Fair, which is a meeting point of tourism professionals the worldover and the second-biggest global gathering of travel and tourism professionals.
It was in March last year that Kerala Tourism launched the barrier-free project in an effort at making 120 destinations across the state disabled-friendly.
Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran, hailing the achievement, said the state has so far implemented the disabled-friendly project in 80 travel destinations, of which eight are in Thrissur.
“We deserve this honour. It will enhance Kerala's reputation as a global tourist destination,” he added.
Kerala Tourism Secretary Rani George said the UNWTO recognition is a result of the state's keenness in meeting the new-age international requirements.
"For this, we receive immense support from private players as well," she noted.
Kerala has been the first state to work as per the UNWTO guidelines on making tourist destinations disabled- friendly.
Bala Kiran said Kerala Tourism is working towards making all its travel destinations disabled-friendly.
“The UNWTO award is an incentive for us to meet the target,” he added.
The work in Thrissur district has been completed in the beaches of Azhikode and Snehatheeram, the hill destination of Vilangankunnu and the scenic dams in Poomala and Vazhani.
Under the ongoing major development projects, the work is being implemented in Chavakkad Beach, Peechi and Thumboormoozhi.
The facilities include ramps, accessible toilets, lactation rooms, Braille pamphlets, signage, touch-screen kiosks, audio and sign aids, wheelchairs and walking aids.
They have been made available in major tourist destinations in the district.