Responsible Tourism Initiative in Kerala
Kerala, situated in the southern part of Peninsular India, is widely known for its salubrious climate, backwaters, Ayurveda, splendid beaches as well as its rich history and heritage. The abundant natural and cultural wealth, along with its educated and hospitable people, forms the basis of the State’s vibrant tourism industry. Realising the tremendous potential of tourism, the development paradigms and the need for promoting it along sustainable lines, an action programme for practising Responsible Tourism (RT) was developed in 2007 involving elected representatives, NGOs, policymakers, industry practitioners, community leaders, social activists, environmentalists, media persons, academicians and other tourism stakeholders. It was decided to practise RT by giving due weightage to social, economic and environmental aspects, with the cooperation and support of all the stakeholders in the tourism business.
In 2008, the Responsible Tourism initiative was implemented on a pilot basis in four destinations across the State, covering diverse geographical regions namely; Kovalam (beach), Kumarakom (Backwaters), Thekkady (Wildlife) and Wayanad (Hill station). The action plan for practising RT was developed in a participatory framework and implemented through a consultative process, keeping in consideration the basic tenets of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Criteria. The preparatory stage of the first phase involved scientific assessment of the daily requirements of hotels, resorts, accommodation establishments and other service providers in tourism. Concurrently, a tourism resource mapping of the locality was done to identify areas where the community can get suitably involved in the tourism business. This was followed by a sensitisation programme for the local community and industry to accept and practise RT in the larger interest of the society, tourists and tourism business. By initiating a participatory approach in tourism, RT was able to create better places for people to live in and visit.
To learn more about Kerala’s responsible tourism journey – a journey that reimagined Kerala by benefiting the local community and redefined the concept of tourism as a whole, please download the brochure here.