The Responsible Tourism initiatives in the state woke up to a new dawn, with the Honorable Chief Minister, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan launching the dedicated Mission for it. The world’s first Responsible Tourism Mission is all set to lead Kerala Tourism through people-friendly, local community-friendly and environment-friendly, initiatives ensuring rural development, employment opportunities and women empowerment.

Sri Kadakampally Surendran, Honorable Minister of Tourism, presided over the function. Sri K Suresh Kurup MLA and Shri Jose K Mani were the chief guests of the function. Dr Venu V, IAS, Principal Secretary, Kerala tourism delivered the welcome speech and P Bala Kiran, IAS, Director of Tourism presented the Responsible Tourism Mission project. Sri K Rupesh Kumar, coordinator, State Responsible Tourism Mission announced the new Responsible tourism destinations.

Welcoming the gathering, Dr Venu V IAS Principal Secretary Kerala Tourism said that It’s a proud moment for all of us. Responsible Tourism that started off in Kumarakom is now a world renowned concept and a point of discussion across the globe. It’s definitely a proud moment for us to be a pioneer in setting up this concept so effectively. Within a span of 9 years, 16 crores is the profit Kumarakom could gain through tourism. Around 1.16 crore revenue is generated by the localities. The reason behind this growth is the involvement as a group by the communities around. The aim of RT is to create 1.5 lakh jobs in the future, said Dr Venu V.

Presiding over the function, Sri Kadakampally Surendran, Honorable Minister of Tourism, said, to be the pioneer state in practicing the concept of Responsible Tourism in the entire country is a proud moment. The government policy is to make Tourism more popular. Apart from improving the functioning of the elite class, the government also aims to use tourism as a tool for village development and women empowerment. Their aim is to make Responsible Tourism more beneficial to the localities. It feels proud to see the mission that started off in Kumarakom as a pilot project in 2008 and is very happy and proud about this. The Government moves forward aiming to bring in more job opportunities and income generation to the localities”

Inaugurating the Responsible Tourism Mission of the state, Speaking on the occasion, Honorable Chief Minister- Pinarayi Vijayan said , “Waste management should be a prime consideration in any development program. The tourist spots and places around the state should be kept clean at all times without asking for additional cost. It should be a practice by itself. The tourism department should make enough arrangements to accommodate the n number of tourists coming in to the state. One needs to appreciate Responsible Tourism completely for it is a source of support for the local communities. Our land is encompassed of serenity and greenery. That is why it’s called God’s own country. Hence, more attention given to Tourism wing will only prove to be beneficial for the development of the state. There are lot of countries around the world who has made profit through tourism. Hence, the same level of importance should be given here. The people who come in as tourists are financially sound in many ways. However, it’s not the financially sound people who walk in as tourists, there are a lot of people within our state who are tourists. Most of the tourists in our state are largely common and middle class people. However, these people who hail from our state as tourists should not be exploited, said Honorable Chief Minister Sri Pinarayi Vijayan. However, in today’s world, mentalities and approaches have changed slowly. People abroad buy products from the manufacturing place itself thereby paying huge amounts for it. Hence, in order to sell these products, we have to ensure proper arrangements. We have to consider these tourists as our guests and we have to treat them well off and for this, the society will have to pay attention and equally contribute to this development.

With a bunch of new projects under the new mission, the state aims at expanding Responsible Tourism across the state by incorporating a set of new destinations. Currently it is carried out only in seven destinations in the state, viz. Kumarakom, Thekkady, Vythiri, Ambalavayal, Kumbalangi, Bakel and Kovalam. Kerala has bagged countless national and international awards and recognition for these projects. Sri Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Government of Kerala, bagged six National Tourism Awards 2015-16 from The President Shri Ram Nath Kovind, Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi out of which one was credited for the Best Responsible Tourism Initiative for ‘Kumarakom’.

Shri P Bala Kiran IAS, Director of Kerala Tourism gave a deep insight into the Responsible Tourism mission project. 1”4 districts across the state have initiated Responsible Tourism cells. The state RT cell has been formed and has already kick started with its functioning and as part of this, from 6 destinations, today we have almost 35 destinations on RT across Kerala”, said Bala Kiran IAS, Director of Tourism, Kerala.

Turning these baby steps into big leaps, the Mission takes Responsible Tourism to all 14 districts. The government plans to create 1,50,000 employment opportunities in the tourism sector alone through the Responsible Tourism Mission, in a span of 5 years. The selected destinations for the Responsible Tourism plan are mostly areas that are covered by backwater, sea, wildlife, heritage and diversity in areas comprising natural beauty. The scheme is being implemented with the primary objective of ensuring extra income and livelihood for agricultural laborers, traditional industrial workers and marginalized communities in these areas and to give equal importance to the social-environmental parity.

Vocational training will be provided to at least 50,000 local natives. This year, as a part of Responsible Tourism, at least 20 Village Life Experience Packages will be opened. It has been proven that Village tourism packages attract a lot of tourists because of the conventional experience of rope-making, handloom, earthenware and toddy tapping in these packages. This project will take the responsibility of ensuring more ways of income to the local community by means of keeping traditional jobs, handicraft activities and classical art forms as part of tourism. The next 4 years will focus on formation of widespread workshops, tourism planning with popular participation and many more.

Since its initiation in 2008, the Kumarakom village panchayat had been performing well under the guidance of committee members and their performances and activities since then was felicitated acclaiming the Panchayat President A.P Salimon and team. They were rewarded with mementos from the Tourism department, presented by Honorable Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The chief minister and the tourism minister also honored the Panchayat committee, various tourism coordinators, facilitators, entrepreneurs as well as natives of Kumarakom, for their participation in bagging the national award to the village this year for Responsible Tourism.

Kumarakom today has set itself as an example for Responsible Tourism and its efficient functioning. The affluent working patterns of this destination for the past 10 years has played a key role in highlighting the identity of Responsible Tourism and hence Honorable Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, felicitated the coordinator of this mission Shri Rupesh Kumar and destination co-ordinator Shri Baghat Singh VS. Coconut Lagoon resort was rewarded for conducting the best promotions for Responsible Tourism.

Shri Achankunj, the pioneer in utilizing the opportunity of commercializing Banana Leaves into a collection and sales unit and thereby making it part of a sustainable livelihood, was regarded with special mention and acknowledgement from the Tourism Mission with Honorable Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan presenting the memento.

The Responsible Tourism Mission Co-Ordinator K Rupesh Kumar presented the memento of the Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission (Bamboo Mural) to Honorable Chief Minister, Shri Pinarayi Vijayan. Followed by a memento from Village Panchayat by the Village Panchayat President to the CM . Further Shri Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Co- Operation, Tourism and Devaswoms, Government of Kerala, regarded various people who had contributed for the improvement and development of the Responsible Tourism Mission.

Shri Jose K Mani M.P and Shri K Suresh Kurup M.L.A also addressed the gathering.
An open forum where discussions, debates, interests, disinterests can all be shared and a fruitful positive outcome can be mutually agreed upon is the very reason responsible tourism mission formation.

An open forum where discussions, debates, interests, disinterests can all be shared and a fruitful positive outcome can be mutually agreed upon is the very reason of Responsible tourism mission formation as it creates such a platform The aim of the Responsible tourism mission is to increase the number of destinations which is limited to 8 now and also to expand it across the state said K Rupesh Kumar, co-ordinator, State Responsible Tourism Mission.In a social, economical and tourism scenario, ensuring public participation in tourism and also promising waste eradication. For this, several destinations has made ideal tourist villages.

Dharmadom, Varkala,Poovar, Ashtamudi, Vaikom region- pepper project AREA,Alappuzha,Muhamma,Fort Kochi, Nila Region, North Malabar River cruise route, Jalayanam Project area in Kozhikode District. The second part of the announcements introduced the concept of responsible tourism which will not only ensure participation from localities but also setting up panchayats which involve the concept of responsible tourism like waste management and lowing local communities to express their freedom of speech and expression. The destinations thus announced for the same were Kolthuruthy (Aanthoor Municipality Island), Pamburuthy (Kolachery Panchayath Island Area), Malappattom (Thalipparamba Constitutency), Thekkumpaattu (Maattool panchayat Island), Ezhom, Panchayat, Thiruvarppu, Aimanayam, Cheruthuruthy, Peruvembu, Vellinezhi, Kanthalloor, Olavanna. Also, the destinations mentioned for the Tourism Resource Mapping. Perinad Village Panchayat, Manrauthuruth, Kozhikode District, Vattavada, Ponmudi.

The joint declaration for expansion of Responsible Tourism was signed by representatives of Kerala Travel Mart society, Association of Tourism Trade Organizations in India (ATTOI), Adventure Tour Operators Association of India- South, Kumarakom houseboat owners Society and Kerala Homestay and Tourism Society and was then received by Shri Rupesh Kumar.

The mission plan was exchanged between Trivandrum Kudambashree District Mission Co-Ordinator, and Assistant District Mission Co-Ordinator. The women who run and work in Kudambashree will actively take part in the Responsible Tourism Mission’s, Village life experience packages from now. The mission also regarded women chauffeurs of the Kudambashree wing. Tourism Minister, Shri Kadakampally Surendran presented them with the RT Chauffeur badges.

Vayali, the bamboo Music group is now the official partner of Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission.

The Farmers conglomerate in Kasargod and Kannur districts, Tejaswini Coconut farmers and producers company also exchanged the mission plan. The president of the organization Shri Sunny Joseph handed over the mission plan to Responsible Tourism Mission Co-Ordinator. Shri Baby Mathew Somatheeram, President KDM, Shri Jose Dominic, Managing Director, CGH Earth Hotel received itineraries from the prestigious wing of Responsible Tourism. Shri Kalanilayam Haridas presented his Bamboo Carvings and sculptures to Director of Tourism Shri P Bala Kiran, IAS.

Advocate Sakhariya Kuthiravelil (President, Kottayam District Panchayat), Shri P.P Michael (President, Block Panchayat, Etumanoor), Shri A P Salimon (President, Kumarakom, Village Panchayat), Shri Jayesh Mohan (Village Panchayat member, Kottayam), Shri K.M Babu( Block Panchayat member, Etumanoor), Mrs Rejitha Kochumon (Member of Kumarakom Village Panchayat), Mrs K V Bindhu (Block Panchayat member, Etumanoor), Mrs Baby Mathew ( President, Kerala Travel Mart Society), Shri Jose Dominic (Managing director, CGH Earth Hotels), Shri Anish Kumar PK (President, ATTOI), Commander Sam T Samuel (Chairman, ATOAI South) and Shri M.P Shivaduttan, (Director, Hats) were part of thanksgiving ceremony. The event came to an end with Mr Rupesh Kumar giving the vote of thanks to the gathering followed by a Thiruvathira performance by the Kudambashree members