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Kumarakom set to become global centre for responsible tourism

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 12, 2018

A better earth: Responsible tourism will ‘create better places for people to live in, and better places to visit.’

Backwater destination of Kumarakom will be declared as a global destination for responsible tourism, seeking to link the local community with hospitality industry.

The declaration is likely to be made on June 29 after a two-day international conference on responsible tourism at Kumarakom.

The theme of the conference will be ‘Responsible tourism: Looking back, moving ahead,’ a spokesperson for Kerala Tourism and RT School@ KITTS (Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies), organisers, said.

Responsible tourism ‘creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’.

It seeks to reduce negative economic, environmental and social impacts; generate economic benefits for local people; and involve local people in decisions affecting their lives.

Kumarakom has forged ahead in establishing economic linkages through procurement of local products and providing employment opportunities to locals.

All major hotels and resorts in the area have since sourced raw materials from over 400 local production units in the panchayat.

ASSESSING PROGRESS

Also chipping in were 22 Kudumbasree self-help vegetable units; 14 units of local farmers; and 360 homestead units. At least 1,000 local residents have benefited from the link-up, say official sources.

Meanwhile, the conference will assess the progress made by the State ever since it hosted the second edition of the international conference on responsible tourism in destinations at Kochi in March 2008. It will also discuss latest advances in the field of responsible tourism across the world, sources said. Parallel sessions on economic, socio-cultural and environmental responsibilities will be held.

The meet will provide an opportunity to look at the challenges which need to be addressed in the next five years.

Kerala shares with Gambia the distinction of being the best laboratory for pro-poor tourism. Field visits to sites of responsible tourism initiatives here have also been organised as part of the conference.

The ‘village life experience’ package has been a major success in Kumarakom. UN representatives had visited Kumarakom recently to assess the initiatives at the instance of the Secretary-General.

The Kumarakom model had won the 2011-12 national award for best rural tourism project.

Kumarakom grama panchayat president Dhanya M.R. made a presentation at the World Travel Market in London two years ago.

Global destination status is expected to be a major boost to responsible tourism initiatives in the State. It is expected to help Kumarakom attract even more tourists.

Authorities are now working to upgrade skills and impart training to life guards, autorickshaw, taxi crew and other modes of service delivery in order to improve wholesome experience level to next higher bar.

Apart from Kumarakom, responsible tourism initiatives were introduced as pilot projects in Kovalam, Kumarakom, Thekkady and Wayanad seven years ago.

vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

Published on May 19, 2013

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