Kerala has bagged the prestigious Global Responsible Tourism Award 2023, in a major endorsement of the sustainable and women-inclusive initiatives successfully promoted by the state’s Responsible Tourism Mission (RTM).

The award is instituted by Responsible Tourism Partnership and International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT), in the Best for Local Sourcing, Food and Craft category.

The State RT Mission was selected for the award, the most valued honour being given for sustainable and inclusive tourism initiatives, for linking women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to tourism activities and ensuring effective marketing of indigenous products.

London-based organisers selected Kerala RTM as a joint winner along with Eswatini, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, which is noted for eco-friendly Ngwenya Glass.

“This international award reflects the universal appeal of the responsible tourism projects that Kerala has successfully implemented, thereby setting a viable model for the rest of India as well as other countries,” Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas said. “The crux of this model is that it helps conserve nature and tangible and intangible heritage, while bringing substantial benefits to local communities,” the Minister added.

Kerala RT Mission has been implementing women-friendly tourism project in the state with the support of UN Women, the UN organisation dedicated to gender equality and women empowerment.

This is the second time Kerala RTM is getting the Responsible Tourism Global Award after its Water STREET project, implemented in Maravanthuruthu in the Kottayam district, notched up the honour last year. With this award, RTM registered a hat-trick this year as it had earlier got two other prestigious awards--- the ‘Gold’ award by the Government of India and the ‘Gold’ award of ICRT. 

The award jury recognised the work of the RTM in promoting the ethnic and traditional foods of each locality through tourism, providing authentic local food experiences enjoyed in local homes for tourists, besides generating additional income for the local communities.

RTM’s major activities like woman-friendly tourism project, experiencing ethnic cuisine project, experiential tourism packages, marketing of products including local handicrafts, training for local community and other projects being implemented in association with local self government institutions were considered for the award.

The Global Responsible Tourism Awards, which cater to Africa, India, and Latin America regions, were given in six categories including Best for Tackling Plastic Waste; Best for Meaningful Connections; Best for Local Sourcing, Food and Craft; Addressing Climate Change; Best for Diversity and Inclusion and Best for Nature-Positive Tourism.  

There are now around 25,000 households benefiting from RT Mission activities in the State.