Taking a cue from the success of Kumarakom and Aymanam, more villages across Kottayam are now embracing the practices of responsible tourism to open themselves up to visitors.
According to officials, 15 local bodies in the district have now joined hands with the Responsible Tourism Mission to come up with locally owned tourism products and services.
The new destinations include the backwater town of Vaikom and the nine adjoining panchayats, besides a handful of villages on the eastern high ranges.
As part of it, the RT Mission has embarked on a mission to prepare a tourism resource directory for the entire district — a first for any district.
Training for development of tourism entrepreneurship has been launched in many of these villages, which will be followed by special tourism grama sabhas, community empowerment initiatives, and development of accommodation units.
Commenting on the initiative, K. Rupesh Kumar, coordinator, RT Mission Kerala, says the project envisages identifying several under-explored rural destinations across these villages with the help of the local government. Tourism circuits and packages with their focus on rural lifestyles, cultural heritage, taste diversity, and tropical greenery will be developed with the involvement of local residents.
“The objective is to develop at least one rural destination in every local body and network different locations to generate a new profile. As at Kumarakom or Aymanam, these packages will create employment and stay carbon neutral to the maximum possible extent,” he says.
In high-range destinations, mud houses and other camping facilities will be developed for experiential stay while caravan parking points will be developed adjacent to farms.
The project, according to Mr.Kumar, is in line with an announcement by Tourism Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas to develop the district as a hub of sustainable tourism.
Last year, the State Government declared Vaikom and nine panchayats as a tourism destination under its Destination Management Programme.