Kerala Tourism bags the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance. The award has made Kerala the first Indian state to win the UN award. It is considered to be the top UN Award for global leadership in creating innovative initiatives through Responsible Tourism. The award was presented on January 22 at a ceremony held at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR), in Madrid, Spain.
Kerala was awarded for its innovative ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom. The project had successfully linked the local community with the hospitality industry and government departments. This in turn has created a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.
The Kumarakom model initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March 2013 and also, the PATA Grand Award for Environment. At the awards ceremony, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said, “Kerala, a popular ecotourism destination, portrays responsible and sustainable tourism in an exceptional manner”. “The recognition Kerala received is a great step towards creating a better understanding among other destinations”, He added. Taleb Rifai wished “continued success” for Kerala Tourism!
In 2013, the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism had won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for its Homestay Experience Programme.
Lonely Planet has declared that India will be one of the world’s top ten best value destinations in 2010 with a special focus on the tourist destinations of Goa, Pushkar and Kerala. In their reporting, the daily Telegraph featured a picture of the chinese nets in Cochin.
2008 and 2009 has been a torrid time for the tourism business in Kerala as elsewhere. Kerala has been especially effected by the demise of package flights to Trivandrum. Thomas Cook, Manos & Airtours all ceased their weekly Gatwick to Trivandum winter flight for the 2009 winter season.
Large hotels that had been preoccupied with package visitors are now frantically visiting travel agencies to drum up business. For many travel agencies there is only minimal sympathy after so many years of being rebuffed by these hotels. The problem is especially acute in Kovalam where the package holiday makers used to congregate. Backpackers are still visiting but the more affluent holiday makers are not heading west to the Americas or further east to Thailand or the re-emerging Sri Lanka.