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Ensuring that local communities benefit from tourism

March 10, 2019
Harold Goodwin
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In 2008 when the 2nd International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations was held in Cochin, there was a small demonstration making clear that many local communities felt used by tourism, and were not benefiting. Tourists and the boats in the backwater were polluting the environment, and local villagers were not profiting from the resorts and tourists who were using their villages.

The Kerala government works closely with the village councils, the panchayat, to clean up the environment and to create economic opportunities for local communities. The state government sensibly had a series of experiments in four villages; they were not all successful. But in Kumarakom, there was a very significant success with many households securing additional income through engaging with tourism. Producer groups were formed to sell produce to the resorts and hotels, dairy and poultry, vegetables, alternatives to plastic, tender coconut and to sell handicrafts, candles and art directly to tourists. There are also now groups offering services performance troupes, tour operations, Tuk Tuks, drivers and Shikkara boat tours. The Village Life Experiences, community guides introduce tourists and villagers to each other in a respectful dialogue has enriched the tourism experience in Kerala. This is about creating shared value for local communities and enriching the tourist experience.

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