Kerala Tourism’s Responsible Tourism Mission is working towards promoting sustainability in tourism through various mediums—online as well as by working with hotels and other tourism products locally—besides encouraging community participation.
The Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission for Kerala Tourism started in 2018, reveals Rupeshkumar K, State Responsible Tourism Mission Coordinator, Department of Tourism, Govt of Kerala. “Even before starting responsible tourism, we faced agitations and struggles from the local community—agonist, unethical and unscientific development of tourism. We decided to promote responsible tourism in the selected four destinations initially, and later added three more destinations during the second phase started in 2011. This means that around July 2017, we initiated seven destinations for responsible tourism. Now, in August 2017, we started the Responsible Tourism Mission, which is under direct control of Director Tourism,” he shared.
Speaking about the initiatives, Rupeshkumar explained, “We are trying to develop three types of activities—majority of them being for economic responsibility, socio-cultural responsibility and environment responsibility. As part of this initiative, we have local production, procurement and supply mechanism with the hotels and resorts, which means one can supply their local products to these properties. If a destination creates money from tourism, the locals would get the money from the tourism industry. Therefore, we are trying to involve the local community to production procurement and purchase mechanism with the support of hotels and resorts. During 2018, we created ` 7.99 crores in selected seven destinations. At the same time, we have three online platforms. The first platform is for product sales, which allows one to purchase all types of souvenirs and handicrafts from the local artisans. One can also sell products like vegetables, food items and everything else through that process. At the same time, we have an online human resource directory, which allows a hotelier to select local people based on their capacity. This means that one can get electrician, plumber, artisan, etc from the locality on that portal. There is also a responsible art and cultural forum, under which over 10,000 artists are directly linked with tourism industry with their art forms.”
We have local production, procurement and supply mechanism with the hotels and resorts, which means one can supply their local products to these properties
Rupeshkumar claimed that the agency also has a booking platform for a village experience. “We have different experiential tour packages. Nowadays, people want to extract more from the destinations. This is not the time for sightseeing packages. We are trying to create a village-like experience package where we will try to find out community-based tourism products from the locality. We will train the local community, and later convert it into tourism products to create packages. From those packages, people will get money. At the same time, we have cuisine, storytelling and cultural
experiences,” he said.
RT Mission is also promoting environment-friendly products. “We are trying to remove plastic bottles, plastic straws and bottled water from hotels. We are also trying to implement sustainable practices in destinations for waste management,” he shared.
Rupeshkumar insisted that they are reaching out to both international and domestic tourists. “Last year, we got around 1 lakh tourists for experiential tour packages. Out of them, 64,000 people were international. Our major source markets include the UK, USA, Spain, Germany and France. With this mission, we want to convey that we can create wonders in tourism with the support of local community whilst walking hand in hand with them,” he concluded.