Kerala’s Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission won four gold medals at this year’s International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) Indian Sub-Continent Awards instituted by the Madhya Pradesh government and the UK-based ICRT International, earning God’s Own Country a hattrick of awards at any such venue.
After this, Kerala qualifies for the World Tourism Market awards in four RT categories.
The State RT Mission won the top honours in plastic waste elimination, water conservation (under the Water STREET Project), diversification in the tourism sector and revival of post-COVID tourism. The State RT Mission State Coordinator Mr K. Rupeshkumar received the awards from the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Minister Ms Usha Thakur at a function in Bhopal.
The Tourism Minister Mr P. A. Mohamed Riyas hailed the RT Mission’s contributions as a model for participatory tourism initiatives in the country. “Efforts are on to develop more people-friendly tourism initiatives,” he noted.
The Tourism Principal Secretary Mr K. S. Srinivas said the RT Mission's waste-management efforts have proved to be a model for other states in the country. “Going beyond management to make useful goods from waste makes the initiative special,” he added.
The Tourism Director Mr P. B. Nooh said the awards were a testament to the social commitment of the state government, the Department of Tourism and the RT Mission functioning under it as a nodal agency to spread and implement sustainable tourism initiatives. “It gives immense pride that the jury hailed the excellent level of female participation in RT units,” he added.
The award jury, headed by the ICRT founder Dr Harold Goodwin, especially lauded Kerala RT Mission’s innovative project STREET (Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic Tourism) in ensuring people’s participation aimed at grassroots development.
The panel noted that Kerala has consistently involved local administration bodies in the state’s water conservation projects, catering to tourism promotion. The RT Mission’s coordination with the state’s hotels and resorts in putting an end to the use-and-throw of plastic products won international attention. Kerala succeeded in curbing the use of plastic bottles with four-fifths of the RT Mission units avoiding their use besides ensuring the supply of non-plastic products to its accommodation units, the jury noted.
The ICRT jury also praised Kerala RT Mission for developing work-at-home videos through its units, besides a string of activities it carried out through local administration. These include tourism resource mapping, village life, cultural-festival tour packages and an Agri-tourism network that promotes farm tourism, besides Experience Ethnic Cuisine Programme that serves regional food and dishes. Also, Kerala RT Mission is the country’s best example of women empowerment, the jury observed.
Also winning ICRT International 2022 awards from Kerala were Kerala Voyages, Let’s Go For A Camp and Veer Naturals Pvt Ltd.
To explore the experiences of Responsible Tourism, check https://www.keralatourism.org/responsible-tourism/