John L. Paul

Kerala Declaration on Responsible Tourism

Call to share tourism earnings equitably

Plea to reduce use of fossil fuels

KOCHI: The Kerala Declaration on Responsible Tourism has exhorted people to delve deeper into claims on responsible and eco-friendly practices adopted by tourism stakeholders, rather than rely on statements made by travellers and the companies concerned.

The Declaration was drafted here on Monday, the concluding day of the four-day long Second International Conference on Responsible Tourism. The appeal comes in the wake of complaints that a good share of proposals in the Cape Town Declaration of 2002 had not been implemented in many destinations.

The delegates declared their commitment to achieving the economic, social and environmental components of responsible and sustainable tourism. The declaration called upon investors in tourism to operate in an ecologically and environmentally sustainable manner and promote conservation and biodiversity during the planning, development and operation of tourism ventures. It appealed to stakeholders to adopt a responsible approach in identifying, managing and harvesting natural resources in tourism destinations. They should recognise how tourism contributes to climate change.

Global concern

It observed that there was global consensus among scientists and others that greenhouse gases were contributing to climate change, which had serious impacts on the environment. The negative impacts fall disproportionately on the poor in developing countries. Most communities face increasing water scarcity, problems associated with waste generation and management, energy and fuel constraints, apart from biodiversity loss.

The Kerala Declaration noted that there should be more focus on business planning and administration, consumer-orientated products development, quality, co-operation with the commercial sector, communication, sales channels, marketing and management of the interaction between tourists and local people. Communities and individuals should be empowered to realise a fair price for their goods and services and should have a say in determining how tourism was developed in their community. The private sector and the government should consider providing marketing support to micro and small enterprises. Care should be taken to ensure that communities do not suffer a disproportionate risk, given their vulnerability. Opportunities should be created to employ people with disabilities. Tourism should be included in the primary curriculum.

As many as 503 delegates from 29 countries participated in the meet organised by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism – India, Kerala Tourism and India Tourism.