In a massive affirmation of its exemplary activities aimed at promoting Responsible Tourism during the challenging times of COVID-19 pandemic, Kerala Tourism has been bestowed the coveted ‘Highly Commended’ Award by World Travel Mart London. Kerala’s Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission received this recognition in the category of ‘Meaningful Connections’. The RT Mission received the award for its innovative work on ‘Wok at Home Videos’ and storytelling audio and video series produced and presented by various Mission units in the state during the pandemic that has posed multiple challenges to the tourism sector.
The Work at Home Videos have been developed by RT Mission entrepreneurs with a message to stay home safely during the lockdown but not to despair and to adopt measures to effectively prevent the spread of the COVID-19. The videos also make an impassioned appeal to the tourists visiting Kerala to see their activities as soon as the pandemic-triggered issues are brought under control. “The award proves that the RT Mission is becoming a driving force in sharing innovative ideas and ensuring public participation in the tourism sector,” said Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran.
Tourism Secretary Rani George said the Mission has played a significant role in the tourism sector during the pandemic. “This is a morale-boosting recognition that celebrates the best-in-class of global travel and tourism industry,” she added. Tourism Director P. Bala Kiran congratulated all the RT Mission unit members in Kerala for this sterling achievement and sustaining tourism activities in the most adverse circumstances.
The RT Mission had instructed the members of various units to wash their hands with sanitizer or soap and start their work. They were presented as a video document to engage them during the lockdown period. Besides becoming a marketing tool, it also became an instant hit in national and international platforms. This was followed by storytelling audios about each area and its festivals, followed by the videos on various traditional musical instruments and other folk art forms.
State RT Mission Coordinator K Rupeshkumar said the Mission received a total of 1,048 audios and videos, all of which were produced and edited by the unit members. These were viewed by thousands of people through various social media platforms. During the World Folklore Day, these videos were aired at the ‘Folkkathone’ programme for 90 minutes. “The uniqueness of this recognition is that the RT Mission units are proving that life-affirming activities need to be presented live without exaggeration to be evaluated and recognised by the world,” he added. The award jury said it was the most popular intervention in the world to give confidence to entrepreneurs and tourists who are reeling from the epidemic. “The move sends a message that any crisis can be overcome by working with one mind,” it noted.
This is the 5th International Award for the Responsible Tourism Mission since its formation in 2017. The Mission has also won three National Awards. There are currently 20,017 units operating in Kerala under the Mission with more than one lakh beneficiaries as part of its activities. The units under the mission earned revenue of Rs 35 crore in three years. One of its salient features is that 80 per cent of the total units are headed by women. The Mission, which also runs 140 experiential tour packages, has so far imparted training to 7,000 people. Also, 48 new tourism destinations have sprung up through the Mission’s flagship projects Pepper and Model RT Village.