Kanthalloor village panchayath in Kerala’s Idukki district has been bestowed with the ‘Gold’ award by the Union Government in the category of Best Rural Tourism Projects.

Kerala Tourism Director P B Nooh received the award from the Secretary, Ministry of Tourism V Vidyavathi in New Delhi on the occasion of World Tourism Day.

Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission (RTM) Coordinator and state Rural Tourism Nodal Officer K RupeshKumar and Kanthalloor Village Panchayat President P T Mohandas were also present to receive the honour.

STREET, which stands for “Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic, Tourism”, is implemented in selected places across Kerala, based on UNWTO’s theme ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’.

Kanthalloor was selected for the honour after an eight-month-long extensive evaluation of rural village projects in the length and breadth of the country.Overall 767 projects from around the country vied for honours, and, five of them won ‘Gold’, 10 were selected for ‘Silver’ and 20 for ‘Bronze.’

“This honour is a huge endorsement for Kerala’s sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives led by the Responsible Tourism Mission,” Kerala Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas said.

Kerala is a global pioneer in sustainable and inclusive tourism development and Kanthalloor is a sterling example of how well tourism should be promoted based on these ideals, Tourism Secretary K Biju said.

 Women-friendly tourism

Located close to the famed hill station Munnar, Kanthalloor village was first brought in the ambit of the participatory tourism initiative ‘PEPPER’ before moving onto STREET project, with the active participation of the local community and the village panchayat.

Kathalloor has the distinction of being the country’s first panchayat to implement women-friendly tourism, for which several programs were held in collaboration with UN Women. As part of this, the ‘destination security’ scheme was implemented and special women tour packages drawn up.

A range of other activities like proper maintenance of street lights, installation of public water vending machines and destination sign boards were done. Collection of waste from houses and tourism properties were systematised. Green check posts were set up to strictly implement ban on plastic material.