A novel initiative piloted by the Kerala State Responsible Tourism Mission got rolled out in a bid to keep prime tourism destinations across Kerala plastic and garbage free. Kadakampally Surendran, Kerala’s Minister for Tourism, Co-operation and Devaswom, launched the “Clean Kerala Initiative” with the co-operation of the stake-holders in the tourism sector.

Flagging off the project and a two-day workshop in Thiruvananthapuram, Surendran lauded the role of Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission in rejuvenating the tourism sector by promoting good practices like the “Green Code of Conduct.” 

“Responsible Tourism Mission (RT) is not just a propaganda tool of the government but it is an integral component of the tourism policy,“ he said. 

Nine destinations – Kovalam, Munnar, Alappuzha, Kumarakom, Wayanad, Fort Kochi, Kollam, Thekkady, and Bakel –  have been identified for the implementation of the new project in the first phase from a list of 21 destinations. The project will take these tourist centres to Green Certification platform by making them the focus of eco-friendly and responsible tourism activities.

“The government’s policy is that the development of tourism will be ensured by giving priority to the interests of people and due consideration to the environment. One can’t ignore the tremendous impact created by RT Mission in achieving this goal,” the Minister pointed out.

The programme was organized by RT Mission in association with Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) and local self-government institutions.

“There are around 15,515 units functioning as part of RT Mission. The government targets to create around 50,000 more units in the next phase. From 2008 to next 10 years there were only 198 RT units, and it has increased significantly in less than two years,” the Minister said.

Noting that the attitude of tourists has changed, he urged the industry to show more willingness to join the RT Mission initiative.

“If we want to attract tourists, we have to create beautiful and hygienic destinations. So we have to effectively implement plastic and garbage-free mission. Local bodies, by associating with RT, can play a vital role as we needed a scientific intervention by adopting paper bags, cloth bags, and glass bottles etc,” he said.

With the implementation of the project in places where RT activities in socio-economic sectors have already become successful, the state will have tourism destinations that have adopted cent percent RT initiatives.         

Rani George, Tourism Secretary, said Kumarakom is leading the implementation of RT initiative, while Alappuzha has fulfilled its vision to an extent. “But a serious thinking is needed on how many restaurants, resorts and hotels are associating with RT Mission initiative,” she reminded.

She said meetings will be conducted in major destinations by her along with Tourism Director regarding RT implementation. “Some are doing individual activities in places like Kovalam and Fort Kochi, but we have to institutionalize them with the association of government, industry, and local self-governing bodies.”

Rani George said the workshop will form a roadmap on converting the tourist centres plastic and garbage-free. “Space for segregation, collection and disposal will be given by the department. An action plan is on the anvil for launching a cleaning drive in 79 destinations with the involvement of Suchitwa Mission, local bodies and District Tourism Promotion Councils (DTPC). There will be a specific plan for each of the centre,” she said. Stressing that waste disposal should be a continuous process, she highlighted the need for improving infrastructure in selected places.

P Bala Kiran, Director, Kerala Tourism, said strong initiative is needed for waste management system. “Apart from waste management system, world class toilets and drinking water facilities will be set up in 15 destinations. They will be maintained by private firms.” Disclosing that classification of beaches is another plan in the offing, he said ensuring zero-carbon ambiance is a major marketing mechanism.

Rupeshkumar K, Coordinator, Kerala RT Mission, welcomed the gathering. At the event, Jobin. J. Akkarakalam, Managing Partner, Spice Routes Luxury Cruises, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the RT unit of Kavalam, Alappuzha, for purchasing eco-friendly products.  Kadakampally Surendran received the MoU.

By Manoj

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