Kanthalloor village bags Centre’s ‘Gold’ for Best Rural Tourism project

 Kanthalloor village panchayath in Kerala’s Idukki district, where the sustainable and inclusive STREET tourism project of the State Responsible Tourism Mission was successfully implemented, has been bestowed with the ‘Gold’ award by the Government of India in the category of Best Rural Tourism Projects.

Kerala Tourism Director Mr.P B Nooh received the award from the Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, India Ms.V Vidyavathi at a ceremony at Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on the occasion of World Tourism Day.

Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission (RTM) Coordinator and state Rural Tourism Nodal Officer Mr.K Rupesh Kumar and Kanthalloor Village Panchayat President Mr.P T Mohandas were also present to receive the honour.

STREET, which stands for “Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic, Tourism”, is implemented in selected places across Kerala, based on UNWTO’s theme ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’.

Kanthalloor was selected for the honour after an eight-month-long extensive evaluation of rural village projects in the length and breadth of the country. In all 767 projects from around the country vied for honours, and, five of them won ‘Gold’, 10 were selected for ‘Silver’, and 20 for ‘Bronze.’

“This honour is a huge endorsement for Kerala’s sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives led by the Responsible Tourism Mission,” Kerala Tourism Minister Mr.P A Mohamed Riyas said.

It is all the more heartening that this national honour is presented to Kerala on World Tourism Day, for which the theme chosen this year by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is ‘Tourism and Green Investments’, Mr.Riyas added.

Kerala is a global pioneer in sustainable and inclusive tourism development. Kanthalloor is a sterling example of how well tourism should be promoted based on these ideals, Tourism Secretary Mr.K Biju said.

After receiving the honour, Mr.P B Nooh recalled that this is the latest in a series of international and national awards to be bestowed on Kerala’s RT initiative, which has set a globally-appreciated model of tourism development that protects ecology, values culture and brings benefits to the local community.

Located close to the famed hill station Munnar in the Idukki district, Kanthalloor village was first brought into the ambit of the participatory tourism initiative ‘PEPPER’ before moving onto the STREET project, with the active participation of the local community and the village panchayat.

Recalling the phase-by-phase process followed in Kanthalloor, Mr.Rupesh said, to start with, dedicated tourism village assemblies were held in all wards of the panchayat to discuss the schemes to be taken up. This was followed by activities such as resource mapping, training programmes, and the formation of MSMEs relating to a range of tourism-related businesses and services.

After laying a firm foundation, the RT Mission and the Village Panchayat successfully took the project forward with clear-cut planning. The entire panchayat was declared as part of a ‘tourism circuit’.

Kathalloor is the country’s first panchayat to implement women-friendly tourism, for which several programmes were held in collaboration with UN Women. The ‘destination security’ scheme was implemented and special women’s tour packages were drawn up.

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