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Local Economic Impact

Research is being conducted with a number of tourism operators and accommodation providers to determine the local economic impacts of their activity. The results will be published here as our work is finalised.

Village Ways operating Uttarakhand, India.

Village Ways and the village enterprises with which they work in Binsar have provided us with the data on spend Village Ways in the six villages through which their tourists walk in Binsar.

In Binsar 58% of households are defined by the government as living below the poverty line (BPL), 81% of families and 20% of individuals are involved with Village Ways, the benefits are well spread across the communities. This spread is deliberate. It is important that the benefits from engaging with tourism are equitably spread and that this is seen as additional income, no other employment or livelihood options have been displaced by tourism. Village Ways generates 14% of Binsar's income, although this varies between 31% in Satiri and 14% in Matkanya.  Significant but not sufficient to create dependency nor to encourage  households to abandon, neglect or reduce their other livelihood activities.

Info-graphic Rupees USD                               Press Release

There is a video about the Binsar product https://vimeo.com/131404313

Further more detailed work is being done and will be published here in due course.

Economic Impact of Responsible Tourism in Kerala

Responsible Tourism has become broad-based in Kerala

Over the last few years we have often been asked about what is happening in Responsible Tourism (RT) in Kerala, little has been published.  Harold Goodwin has  been in Kumarakom working with CGH Hotels at Coconut Lagoon and with Rupeshkumar, the State Level RT Field Co-ordinator at Centre for Responsible Tourism, Kerala Institute for Tourism and Travel Studies (KITTS), researching the extent of tourism’s local economic impact. He asked Rupesh what the impact of Responsible Tourism had been – this is what Rupesh told him.

It is important to note that this is the Responsible Tourism impact, not the impact of tourism more generally on local economic development – the research will tell us that for Kumarakom. Responsible Tourism in Kerala tourism is a family business, so it is appropriate to identify the beneficiaries of the Responsible Tourism programme as families rather than individuals.

In Kumarakom,the Panchayat (Local Self Government) has played the leading role in establishing the programme, both the Village Life Experience programme – see below – and the supply chain activity. Micro-enterprises, homestead farmers and sole traders have all benefited from becoming involved in the tourism supply chain though the sale of handicrafts, pickles, pappads, candles, Kerala Chips (jackfruit and banana), cultural group and dealing with plastic waste. It is estimated  that 1,600 families have benefited from sales of 10,800,000 – that an average of 6750 Rupees per family additional or supplementary income. In Kumarakom, the panchayat has been successful in establishing and maintaining self-help groups, Kudumbashree. The Responsible Tourism Cell with the support of Panchayat has established a Price Committee which establishes prices in a three way negotiation between the Panchayat the Responsible Tourism team and the hotels, resulting in a price premium of between 3 and 7%.

In Thekkady, the programme was relaunched in 2012, the original model based on the panchayats having failed. In Thekkady, the Responsible Tourism team has brokered direct relationships between the hotels and tour operators and the producers organised in producer groups. A wide range of products is being sold to the hotels: paper & cloth bags, honey, rice, chilli powder, candles, chocolate, soap, pappads and cultural group performances. It is estimated that 450 families benefits and earn 480,0000(48 lakhs)Rupees, an average of 10,667Rupees per family. The Responsible Tourism Spice Shop run by two families sell locally sourced spices and other goods and is estimated to have a turnover of22,00,000(22 Lakhs)Rupees – making a total of (total 48 lakhs)Rupees additional income from Responsible Tourism in Thekkady

In Wayanad the Responsible Tourism programme has been resort led since 2008, with the Panchayat playing a secondary role in a region of coffee and tea planters. The resorts and hotels have taken the lead requesting specific products from the local communities including pottery, eucalyptus oil, bee keeping, paneer making, mushroom, milk, cardamom, handicrafts, including the Thudi tribal musical instrument and bamboo products: pictures, chains, bangles, lampshades and laundry baskets for use in the guest rooms and for sale to tourists. Rice cultivation is an important part of the local economy, particularly Jeerakasala&Gandhakasala(Kabani Rice is the brand name of Responsible Tourism Rice) which has World Heritage status. The Responsible Tourism team has fostered the creation of a farmers’ co-operative which sells the rice to tourists and is beginning to sell through other channels too.  It is estimated that 180 families are benefiting from revenues of 38 Lakhs- 38,00,000/-.

In Kerala, the initial Responsible Tourism programme was focused on the sale of farm produce and handicraft to hotels and resorts. The Village Life Experience programmestarted in 2008 bythe Responsible Tourism initiative at Kumarakomwith the support of Department of Tourismhas beensubsequently developed and extended tomore destinations and all these packages are being promoted nationally and internationally by the Department of Tourism.Kerala Tourism now offers a diverse range of village experience tours in Kumarakom, Kovalam, Wayanad, Thekkady and Bekal. The experiences are diverse reflecting the ways in which people live locally. Some are walking tours others are based on a country boat ride: toddy tapping, coconut tree climbing, coconut leaf weaving, screw pines, bow and arrow and net fishing, gardens and farms, plantain, weaving, coconut oil, cattle and plough, bee keeping, bamboo crafts and many more experiences which offer  guests the opportunity to learn about how rural Keralans live.  25% of Village Life Experience bookings are direct with the Responsible Tourism offices, the remainder are retailed by hotels, resorts and operators.

The major constraints which have emerged, constraining the growth of the Responsible Tourism  programme are funding for training and product development; the support of local self-government and the industry – it remains a challenge to reach potential clients as access is largely controlled by the established industry.

The experiences are sold through hotels and resorts, by tour operators and travel agents in Kerala, India and abroad. Each experience “retails” at 1,500 Rupees, of which 1,400 Rupees goes to the villagers who make the tours possible, the Kerala Institute of Tourism & Travel Studies retains 100 Rupees to market and develop the programme. “Retails” because where the Village Life Experience is sold through a hotel or tour operator they will add their commission, and the commissions vary. Where tourists buy directly for the Village Life Experience programme, the retail price is1,500 Rupees. In 2014, nearly 400 experiences were sold through the programme.


Packages Guests Beneficiary Families Total Value
Kumarakom 300 600 75 900,000
Wayanad 60 100 42 150,000
Thekkady 5 15 10 25,000
Kovalam 44 88 25 132,000
Bekal 5 10 8 15,000
Total 389 813 160 1,222,000

Source estimates:Centre for Responsible Tourism, KITTS

In Vaikom, although there is no active Responsible Tourism programme, the hotels and resorts, the guides, country boat and tour operators are creating packages which they retail at 1,500 Rupees, but of that only 500 goes to the families who constitute the attraction. Rupesh estimates that 200 families are benefiting but to a much smaller degree in the panchayats in Vaikom where the Responsible Tourism programme is operating. Rupeshkumar estimates the retail value of these products in Vaikom to be 1,180, 000Rupees.

It is anticipated that the Village Life Experiences will expand to 20 new packages in 20 new villages over the next 12 months.

Rupeshkumar K. and Harold Goodwin March 2015

All these achievements are the result of a team work. KITTS (Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies) coordinating all the activities with the support of Dept .of Tourism. As a Nodal Agency, KITTS has a key role in implementing the project at state level under the leadership of Dr.RajashreeAjith,(Director, KITTS), Dr. B.Vijayakumar(Principal, KITTS), Mr. Saroop Roy B. R. (Project Coordinator, Responsible Tourism Initiative), Rupesh added.


Kerala Symposium May 31st – June 2nd 2011 Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Partners: Kerala Tourism, the Kerala Institute of Travel and Tourism Studies and ICRT India.
The symposium was opened in the presence of the Ministers for Tourism and Social Welfare and Panchayats. During the two day symposium seven of the 100 odd initiatives in Kerala were discussed in some detail, the intention being to learn from the experience in the four laboratories of Responsible Tourism in Kerala: Kumarakom, Kovalam, Kumily and Wayanad. For more on Responsible Tourism in Kerala read
The Responsible Tourism laboratories in Kerala have been established with a degree of transparent monitoring and reporting which is sadly rare – as I said at the inauguration the evolving effective working relationship between the ministries and local government “is a rare phenomenon and should serve as a beacon for other counties.” Read more about the symposium

Report on the outcomes of the symposium
Goodwin H & Venu V (2011) Meeting Challenges. Saving Lives Kerala Institute of Travel and Tourism Studies download

Dr Venu explains the background to the Responsible Tourism initiatives in Kerala YouTube

Kumarakom Village Experiences YouTube

There is a very active Facebook page about RT in Kerala: Better Together



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