The responsible tourism model in the famed tourist destination of Kumarakom linking local community to the hospitality industry has won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project.

Secretary, Tourism, Suman Billa received the National Tourism Award from the President, Pranab Mukherjee at a glittering ceremony held at the Vigyan Bhavan. Kerala also bagged the honours in three other categories at the National Tourism Awards for 2011-12.

The Best Wellness Centre award went to Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort in Chowara near Thiruvananthapuram while Pioneer Personalised Holidays won in the Best Approved Inbound Tour Operator and Travel Agent category.

Kumarakom picked up two more awards for Vivanta by Taj in the Best Four Star Hotel category and Coconut Creek Farm and Home Stay, Kumarakom for Bed and Breakfast Establishment.

The National Award for Kumarakom is a recognition of the best practices in responsible and eco-friendly tourism, Minister for Tourism, A.P. Anil Kumar said. The credit goes to the people of Kumarakom who made it sure that the project became a huge success through their participation, he added.

The National Tourism Awards are given away every year by the Union Tourism Ministry to recognise excellence and pioneering initiatives in the tourism industry.