Kerala bags UN award for sustainable tourism
Kumarakom: The United Nations has brought in some good news for Kerala Tourism as Kumarakom has become the first Indian destination to win an UN Award for sustainable tourism.
Right from coconut leaves weaving to coir making, toddy tapping and a country boat ride through the lush green Vembanad Lake, a tourist visiting Kumarakaom gets hands on experience about the village life in the popular destination.
A tourist begins his journey with a country boat ride through a picturesque lake lined with coconut trees. One can even try a hand at rowing before landing at a village where locals showcase their traditional skills.
“From when I was young I used to weave coconut leaves and make products from screw pine. I am really happy that by demonstrating these traditional activities I can also earn,” said Gauri, who weaves coconut leaves.
Kerala’s Responsible Tourism initiative, a programme that integrates the region’s residents, practices and culture into all facets of the tourism industry was started in 2008 in Kumarakom. And after six years of hard work, it has helped the state bag the UN World Tourism organisation Rolex Watches for Sale award.
“Th Rolex Watches for Sale e Kumarakom tourism industry was in stagnation due to clashes between the locals and industry. Before starting this project only 10 percent of the locals got job but now about 60 to 70 percent locals are being employed in resorts,” said K Roopesh Kumar, state level RT coordinator.
The popular programme is a boon for tourists and locals alike, providing an enriching, diverse and hand on experience for tourists while allowing local businesses and culture to thrive.
Suman Billa, Tourism Secretary, said, “We got a model which is brilliant and which is accepted by the local community, now the challenge is to extent this to other parts of the state. My aim is that in the next 5 to 8 years responsible tourism should be extended to the whole of Kerala.”
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