Responsible Tourism (RT) is an alternate tourism approach came up during the late 60s/early 70s to address the environmental concerns raised by mass tourism. Responsible Tourism concept is based on three responsibilities - Economic Responsibility, Socio-Cultural Responsibility and Environmental Responsibility - known as 'Triple Bottom Line approach'. But a unified definition for "Responsible Tourism" was declared in Cape Town in 2002 alongside the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Responsible Tourism is about "making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit." RT encompasses all forms of tourism and seeks to minimize negative economic, environment and social impacts. It generates greater economic benefits to local people and enhances the wellbeing of local communities.
Government of Kerala initiated Responsible Tourism programme on an experimental basis at four select destinations – Kumarakom, Kovalam, Thekkady and Vythiri - in 2008. After reviewing the activities at these four destinations, Responsible Tourism practices had been extended to three more destinations (Bekal in Kasaragod, Kumbalanghi in Ernakulam and Ambalavayal in Wayanad) in 2011 as the second phase. Over the years, Responsible Tourism activities in the State have created linkage between tourism industry and local community in these destinations, helping the community members especially women generate additional income from tourism besides their regular livelihood activities, without having any major investments. Responsible Tourism activities conducted by the government across these destinations have received an overwhelming response. However, the benefits were limited to a small group of people in these destinations.
Subsequently, in 2017, Government critically evaluated the results and impacts of responsible tourism activities for the previous 10 years. After adopting sufficient corrective measures Government declared Responsible Tourism as the Tourism Policy of Kerala and decided to widen Responsible Tourism activities across the state. Later, Responsible Tourism Mission (RT Mission) was formed on 27th June 2017 to lead the RT activities in Kerala as the third Phase of Responsible Tourism implementation in the state. The major deliverables of Responsible Tourism Mission are:
To promote Responsible Tourism practices in Hotels and Resorts, Government has introduced Responsible Tourism Classification Scheme for Hotels and Resorts. The Classification scheme is based on the three responsibilities of Responsible Tourism concept- Economic, Socio-Cultural and Environmental Responsibilities - and the Sustainable Management practices of Hotels and Resorts.'Responsible Tourism Classification for Hotels and Resorts' has been developed on the basis of Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC). The scheme has been introduced vide Government Order, G.O.(Rt) No.225/2011/TSM dated 25.03.2011.
In 2017 Government released RT - based new Tourism policy for the state and extended Responsible Tourism activities across the state through Responsible Tourism Mission. The Responsible Tourism Classification Criteria for Hotels and Resorts has also been revised by giving a thrust to the Environmental Criteria, to promote environmental protection and eco-restoration activities through tourism. Vide Government Order, G.O. (Ms) No. 6/2021/TSM dated 26.02.2021, Government issued revised order for Responsible Tourism Classification for Hotels and Resorts.
The revised 'Responsible Tourism Classification for Hotels and Resorts' classify Hotels and Resorts as:
RT Green is an additional classification offered in this scheme based on the score in Environmental Responsibility Criteria. Properties scoring more than 80% in Environmental Responsibility criteria will receive RT Green Classification in addition to RT Diamond/RT Gold/RT Silver. No separate application for RT Green category.
Hotels and Resorts interested in getting Responsible Tourism Classification should apply online. Submit the application, download and take a printout of the same. Fee of Rs. 5000/- per Hotel/ Resort should be enclosed with the application form by way of Demand Draft drawn in favour of the Director, Department of Tourism, payable at Thiruvananthapuram has to be submiited to the following address - "The Director, Department of Tourism, Park View, Thiruvananthapuram - 695033".
Inspection Committee will examine the criteria filled by the applicant. Classification will be awarded based on the recommendation of the committee.
(Minimum three of the above make quorum to constitute the committee)