Kerala’s sustainable and inclusive tourism project STREET – which stands for Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic Tourism – is a participatory tourism development approach evolved on the basis of UNWTO’s motto ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’. This project is being implemented as part of the globally acclaimed Responsible Tourism initiative of the Kerala Tourism Department.
In recognition of the water conservation initiatives successfully carried out as part of the community-oriented destination development plans by Kerala, the STREET Project has received the global award at the World Travel Mart (WTM) London. The state bagged the award for the commendable work it carried out for ‘Conserving Water and Improving Water Security and Supply for Neighbours.’
Tourism Minister PA Mohamad Riyas, who led the Kerala delegation to WTM London said that the recognised water conservation initiative taken up under the STREET project, is a first of its kind initiative in the world.
“The Kerala Government will continue its focus on ensuring that local communities actively participate in tourism activities across the whole of Kerala, thereby ensuring more economic benefits to the community”, the minister added.
Through STREET, the state aims at conserving its invaluable natural assets side by side with tourism development, Riyas further added. The project focuses on theme-based street development approach at tourism destinations to reduce over concentration of activities at core centres, to widen the area of interest for visitors and maximise the local community benefit.
‘WATER STREET’- RT Mission’s message of tourism becoming a tool for water conservation
‘Water Street’ is one major stream of the STREET Project, successfully implemented at Maravanthuruthu Panchayat in Kottayam District near Kumarakom.
As shared by Kerala Tourism Department, for developing Water Streets at Maravanthuruthu, 18 canals, three rivers and a backwater stretch flowing through the area have been cleaned and deepened as the combined effort of local community, RT Mission units and the local Panchayat. The banks of the canals were protected with coir rapping and cultivation of flower, herbal and vegetable plants.
Once the free flow of clean water was ensured, water related tourism activities like Kayaking, rowing country boats, shikara trips were taken up and marketing of local products and live fishing activities were organised. According to the tourism department, these are launched to promote experiential tourism and are taken up by the local community with a local monitoring mechanism. The initiative created an awareness that it is crucial to avoid pollution of water bodies
A positive environmental impact has been created through these activities in the project area and helped control the water-logging and flooding during the rainy season. Through WATER STREET, Kerala’s Responsible Tourism Mission has shown the world that tourism can become a tool for water conservation if connected with local economic development.
KS Srinivas IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism; P.B Nooh, Director, Tourism and K Rupeshkumar, State Coordinator, Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission are also part of the delegation to WTM London 2022. In a celebration of the state’s sustainable tourism practices in the past 15 years, WTM London also featured a seminar on Kerala’s pioneering RT activities.
‘Looking Back, Moving Ahead: 15 Years of Kerala’s Responsible Tourism Journey’ was the title of the analytical session and was held on November 9.