Responsible Tourism Initiative In Kerala – A story of success and empowerment.

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Kerala, a small strip of land spread over 38,863 Sq.km, is located in the southern part of Indian peninsula. This nature blessed land is the abode of salubrious climate, evergreen scenery, forest, mountains, rivers, backwaters, fairs and festivals. All these coupled with vision and creativity turned the land into a tourist paradise, popularly known as God’s own Country. Planned efforts to promote tourism in Kerala were initiated in 1970’s by establishing Kovalam International Beach Resort. Realizing the proactive role that tourism can play in development, the Government declared tourism as an industry in 1986. The synergy between public and private sectors that evolved since then has been responsible for the development of tourism industry in Kerala. Today, Kerala offers diverse tourism products that have a strong bearing on environment and society. The unique products of Kerala like Ayurveda, House Boats, Backwaters and Village Life Experience have immensely helped to strengthen and popularize the tourism brand of Kerala globally. The latest addition to the basket of tourism products is village life experience packages. The package offers opportunity to experience and enjoy rural living which is built on the strong foundations of tradition, culture and environment. Kerala Tourism is witnessing continuous and steady growth in tourist arrivals. The state offered hospitality to 10 million tourists during 2012.

Realizing the role of tourism in deciding the growth momentum, efforts were taken in Kerala to enable the community to take an active role in tourism development. A public debate in this direction was mooted in 2007 involving elected representatives, NGOs, policy makers, industry practitioners, community leaders, social activists, environmentalist, media persons, academicians etc., which decided to promote Responsible Tourism (RT) Kerala giving due emphasis to triple bottom line approach – economic, social and environmental aspects. The Government of Kerala also decided to launch RT initiatives in the state on a pilot basis in May 2007 in four destinations that are known for their tourism attractions. The destinations selected were Kovalam (beach destination), Kumarakom (back water destination) Periyar (forest destination) and Wayanad (hill station).

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