Responsible Tourism initiatives at Kerala’s Aymanam bag global honour

The award comes 14 months after the Kerala CM declared Aymanam as a model Responsible Tourism village.

Responsible Tourism initiatives have always put Kerala at the centre of the global tourism map. The push towards more work with extra care on the environment has been going on ever since the Responsible Tourism Mission under the Department of Kerala Tourism was given shape.

In a significant development that applauds the mission, the Aymanam Model Responsible Tourism Village Project has won the WorldTravel Market’s ‘Indian Responsible Tourism One to Watch’ award. The laurel has thereby brought global attention to the river bank tourist spot near Kottayam. The award-winning project functions under Kerala Tourism’s Responsible Tourism Mission, which was formed four years ago as a nodal agency by the Kerala government.

Significant enough is the fact that the project has won the World Travel Mart recognition 14 months after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan declared Aymanam as a model Responsible Tourism village.

The award comes after the village fully implemented the Mission’s guidelines focusing on ecological conservation of tourist spots besides promotion of culture in a way that helps the local population earn income.

Kerala Tourism Director Krishna Teja received the honour at the ongoing WTM in London in the ‘High-Speed Diversification’ category for tourist activities spanning two years ending on March 31, 2020.

Aymanam holds aloft Responsible Tourism to the world

Aymanam, along the Meenachil river, has several homestays, while eight more are to be recognised soon. The village is carrying out packages featuring rural life, bird-watching, walks across paddy fields, cycling and sightseeing of the countryside. It has women as tour community leaders, earning worldwide recognition.

An Aymanam tourism resource directory and publicity videos that woo travellers to the village are also being readied. The project also comprises a cultural experience package featuring local festivals and traditional art forms.

An ‘Aambal’ (water lily) festival in Aymanam recently fetched good income to shikara motorboat owners. The first phase of RT Mission got over in March 2020, giving job training to 617 local residents and 118 entrepreneurs an opportunity to start a business.

Houseboats, shikras, motorboats and resorts operating in Aymanam were declared plastic-free on New Year’s Day of the year 2020.

It is expected that the global award will also enable Kerala to revive its tourism, which saw a lag owing to the Covid-19 spread in March last year. The award is also expected to help Kerala retain its international appeal.

More RT projects in other villages planned

Responsible Tourism seeks to strengthen local development with people’s participation. The government is also planning to implement the project in other villages of the state, thereby serving RT models to the rest of the country.

The RT Mission is carrying out the model village projects by coordinating the government’s tourism initiatives under respective panchayats. The project has been implementing a 15-point programme after it was given shape in 2018 in 13 regions of Kerala.

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