The scenic village of Kanthalloor in Kerala has earned the prestigious ‘Gold’ accolade from the Government of India for its remarkable implementation of the STREET tourism project. This accomplishment is part of the State Responsible Tourism Mission’s ongoing efforts to promote sustainable and inclusive tourism.
The recognition was bestowed upon Kerala Tourism Director PB Nooh by the Union Ministry of Tourism during a ceremony held at Bharat Mandapam on World Tourism Day, which took place on September 27. The STREET initiative, which stands for “Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic, Tourism,” is being introduced in selected regions across Kerala in alignment with the UNWTO’s theme of ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth.’
Kanthalloor Village’s exceptional achievement followed an extensive eight-month evaluation of rural village projects from across the country. In a highly competitive environment featuring 767 projects, Kanthalloor Village in Idukki emerged as one of the five recipients of the prestigious ‘Gold’ award, while ten other projects received ‘Silver’ recognition, and twenty projects were honored with ‘Bronze’ awards.
Kerala Tourism Minister PA Mohamed Riyas expressed immense pride in this achievement, underscoring Kerala’s steadfast commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism practices. Tourism Secretary K Biju also commended Kerala’s global leadership in sustainable and inclusive tourism, using Kanthalloor as a shining example of these principles.
PB Nooh noted that this recognition adds to the growing list of international and national awards earned by Kerala’s Responsible Tourism initiative. This initiative has gained worldwide recognition for its tourism development model, which places a high priority on preserving ecology, culture, and the welfare of local communities.
Kanthalloor Village, located near the renowned Munnar hill station in the Idukki district, initially participated in the ‘PEPPER’ participatory tourism initiative before transitioning to the STREET project. This transition was made possible through active community engagement and the dedicated efforts of the village panchayat.
The journey in Kanthalloor encompassed village assemblies, resource mapping, training programs, and the establishment of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) related to various tourism-related businesses. The Responsible Tourism Mission and the Village Panchayat collaborated effectively, leading to the entire panchayat being declared an integral part of a ‘tourism circuit.’
Kanthalloor became the first panchayat in the country to introduce women-friendly tourism practices through collaborative programs with UN Women. These efforts included implementing the ‘destination security’ scheme and developing specialized tour packages for women.
The project received funding from the plan fund, with uniform pricing for tour packages and rigorous oversight facilitated by joint review meetings conducted by the Responsible Tourism Mission and UN Women. The ‘safe destination’ scheme was implemented as part of these efforts, and ‘Green Badges’ were awarded to vehicles used for tourism activities.
In a comprehensive approach to enhance the tourist experience, various initiatives were undertaken, including maintaining street lights, installing public water vending machines, and placing destination signboards. The systematic collection of waste from households and tourism properties was established, accompanied by the creation of green check posts to enforce strict bans on plastic materials. To further enrich the rural tourism experience, distinct areas were designated green, vegetable, and fruit streets. These diverse activities were coordinated by an appointed panel, with the panchayat president serving as chairman and the RT Mission coordinator as convener.