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Kerala Conference Opens

The Incredible India Second International Conference on
Responsible Tourism in Destinations opened in Kerala today.  There are more than 400 delegates from 25
countries who have come together to review progress in achieving Responsible
Tourism since the Cape Town Declaration of 2002.


The Conference was opened by Shri. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan,
Hon?ble Minister from Home, Vigilance and Tourism from the Government of Kerala
and Shri. Shilabhadra Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, from the government
of India.
The Indian Association of Tour Operators, the Association of Domestic Tour Operators,
the Ecotourism Society of India
and the Kerala Travel Mart Society – the industry representatives endorsed the principle
of responsible tourism. The challenge now is implementation.


Kerala has many more domestic than international visitors – in
2006 there were 6,000,000 visitors in 2006, less than 10% were international visitors.
It is clear that we need to be managing the impacts of tourism in general rather
focusing only on international tourism.


The local media has highlighted the opening speech by Kerala
Tourism Minister Shri. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. They have committed to take
forward the concept of Responsible Tourism into practice. Shri. Kodiyeri
Balakrishnan asserted Kerala’s priorities: Responsibility to Local Community,
Responsible to the Nature and Responsibility to the tourists. To fulfil the
responsibility to the local community we should focus both on local economy and
local culture. Responsible Tourism is to avoid monopoly in reaping the benefits
of tourism by a group of capitalists and to assure nature conservation while
ensuring private participation in tourism development.?


Some of the papers from the conference are already available
at www.arty.ino – others will be loaded as
they become available. The Academic Conference day ran until 18:30 – there were
still 350 delegates present and a lively exchange of views.


There were interesting exchanges of information between delegates
from Africa and Asia and particular interest
in the implications for local communities. .


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