Kerala’s award-winning ‘Responsible Tourism’ (RT) initiatives has come in for further recognition with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) describing them as a model for other destinations to replicate.
The world’s foremost international tourism organisation also called for the development of closer ties between Kerala Tourism and UNWTO, emphasising the importance of further association to help take the message of sustainable tourism forward.
In a recent meeting held at UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, Kerala Tourism Director Shri U.V. Jose presented a report on the RT campaigns – the heart of Kerala’s tourism story for nearly a decade – to Mr Xu Jing, UNWTO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
The report contained details of the RT policies and practices implemented in the state and the campaign’s success in giving stakeholdership to local communities and empowering them economically through activities that prioritise cultural and ecological conservation.
In addition, the report outlined plans of action undertaken as part of this commitment to sustainability such as the implementation of a new RT Classification system in keeping with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, the Government of Kerala’s ‘Green Carpet’ programme, the creation of destination-level RT units to support local communities and transformative initiatives adopted by trade sector entities like the Kerala Travel Mart’s (KTM) ‘9-point agenda’.
Observing that the UNWTO’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 (IYSTD2017) was a good opportunity to focus on local development, Shri Jose said the aim is now to certify small destinations across the state according to the same criteria.
Congratulating Kerala for the initiative’s success, Mr Jing said, “The UNWTO is proud of the work done by Kerala Tourism and impressed by the Kerala model of responsible and sustainable tourism. The projects can be included as part of UNWTO’s global programmes and the report can be a case study for other destinations. We are eager to strengthen our relationship and discuss matters of common interest.”
The meeting was held on the sidelines of FITUR 2017, one of the world’s largest tourism and travel fairs. Shri Jose had also attended the launch event of the UNWTO’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
The event saw UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, H.E. the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili, H.E. the Vice-President of Honduras Ricardo Alvarez, H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain Alfonso María Dastis, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Naasir al Nasser, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Francesco Bandarin and Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission, Elżbieta Bieńkowska in attendance.