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Pro-Poor Tourism in Kumarakom, Kerala

There has been considerable criticism of the negative impacts of tourism
in Kerala.[1]
Since 1997 there has been local government reorganization in Kerala with the
introduction of a decentralized three tier system called ?Panchayathi Raj
System?. The state government transferred the power and budget to local panchayats
(villages) with the full participation of the local people by constituting
Grama Sabhas (Peoples? Forums).[2]

Michot in a 2010 review of Pro-Poor Tourism in Kumarakom recognizes the
scale of the challenge which the panchayat leaders working with the government
of Kerala faced in increasing the economic benefits to local communities.
Michot concludes that the project in Kumarakom already shows ?positive outcomes
on economic and social empowerment of the local community? although Michot concludes that there are particular
reasons why the initiative was successful there and questions how replicable it
is. [3]

Kerala at state and local
government level faces major challenges in their joint endeavor to increase the scale of earnings which
the local communities are able to make from tourism in Kerala. With more than
seven million domestic arrivals and half a million international visitors there
is considerable potential for tourism to contribute to livelihoods.

Kumarakom is one of the first destinations in India which has
successfully implemented Responsible Tourism practices in 
with the active participation of local people through their local government
structures. In Kumarakom the Responsible Tourism
programme has included the development
of three excursion programmes which enable visitors to experience village life
and provide additional livelihoods for local people. There are two groups of
farmers who have organised to sell vegetables to the Karshaka samithis (450
farmers in 10 groups) and Samrudhi homestead farmers (510). A Price Fixing
Committee agreed a consensus price for vegetables being sold to hotels and a
Quality Committee sought to resolve issues around the quality of produce sold
to the hotels. The Geethabhai employs 21 people selling vegetables to the
hotels and since the Responsible Tourism initiative began they now have seven
acres of rice. Earamattom is a new enterprise headed by a woman providing
vegetables, catering, tailoring and performing cultural shows. Another
entrepreneur is earning Rs20,000 per month selling an average of 20 models of
traditional boats, a snake boat and traditional angling.[4]

The programme has been reviewed by Dr. N. C. Narayanan, Indian Institute of Technology , Mumbai, the process will be developed and the initiative will be rolled-out to a further 10 sites. The transparent process of reporting, the open forum for discussions about the programme to date and the willingness to have the programme externally reviewed has meant that the strengths and weaknesses of the initiatives have been assessed and the lessons learned, laying a strong basis for the extension of the approach across the state.

See for example Prakash B.A. (2004) Kerala's
economic development: performance and problems in the post-liberalisation
Sage pp. 269 & 287. Zacharias S, Manalel J, Jose M.C & Aalan
A (2008) Back Water Tourism in Kerala:
Challenges and Opportunities,
Indian Institute of Management Equations an
Indian NGO has campaigned against the creation of special tourism zones in
Kerala and

Ramachandran A, Enserink B & , Balchand A N, (2005) Coastal regulation zone
rules in coastal panchayats (villages) of Kerala, India vis-?-vis
socio-economic impacts from the recently introduced peoples? participatory
program for local self-governance and sustainable development Ocean & Coastal Management 48 (7-8)
pp. 632-653

Michot T (2010) Pro-Poor Tourism in Kumarakom, Kerala, South India: Policy
Implementation and Impacts published by the Guild of Independent Scholars and
the Journal Of Alternative Perspectives In The Social Sciences Working Paper
no. 7 p.2

Available on line at Goodwin H & Venu V (2011) Meeting challenges. Changing lives. Report of 1st International
Symposium on Tourism and Livelihoods


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