Kerala’s successful Responsible Tourism model has made a mark at the recent Africa Travel Week by World Travel Market (WTM) Africa. Rupesh Kumar, State Responsible Tourism Mission Coordinator, Kerala, presented the Kerala case study at the session on ‘How can Tourism Create more Value for Local Communities’. It was the first time somebody from India participated and presented on Responsible Tourism at WTM Africa.

Presenting at the WTM Africa, Rupesh Kumar made a strong case for Responsible and Sustainable tourism in the post-Covid World. The travel world cannot move forward by ignoring Responsible and Sustainable tourism, he said. Travel will be more domestic oriented and seeking unique experiences around art, craft, culture, cuisine, and village life experiences, he said.

In post-Covid tourism, the importance of protecting the natural environment, eco-system will increase, he said. Women empowerment and participation of local communities in tourism activities will get prominence like never before, he added.

Kumar also explained the origin and evolution of Responsible Tourism in Kerala. He shared how “unethical and unscientific” tourism development was met with resistance from the local communities in several places, which sowed the seeds of responsible tourism in Kerala.

He explained how Kerala’s Responsible Tourism experiment entered into a mission mode in 2017 and how the RT Mission expanded its activities into all the 14 districts of the state over the last three years.

The session moderated by Harold Goodwin, WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor, had James Fernie, Director, Uthando, South Africa; Adama Bah, Founder, Institute of Travel & Tourism, Gambia; Glynn O Leary, CEO, Transfrontier Parks Destinations, South Africa; and Dr Salifou Siddo, CEO, SME TradeLinks, South Africa.