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A role model for RT

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Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, India in association with RT School @ Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies (KITTS), Thiruvananathapuram, Kerala is organising an international conference on Responsible Tourism on June 27 – 29, 2013 at Kumarakom, Kerala. The theme for the conference is ‘Responsible Tourism: Looking Back, Moving Ahead’.

The conference will look into the progress Kerala has made after the second edition of International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations (ICRTD) held at Kochi in March 2008 and will also discuss the latest advances in the field of RT across the world. The conference starts with a plenary session on June 27, 2013 and there will be parallel sessions on Economic Responsibility, Socio-cultural Responsibility and Environmental Responsibility on June 28, 2013. As part of the event, on June 29, 2013, Kumarakom will be declared as a global RT destination and a field trip is also being arranged on the day to visit the Responsible Tourism (RT) initiatives at Kumarakom.

Some of the dignitaries who have agreed to grace the event with their presence includes Dr Harold Goodwin (professor in Responsible Tourism Management and director at Leeds Metropolitan University and director ICRT), Mason Florence (executive director, Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office), Srilal Miththapala (project director, SWITCH Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce), Dr Karma Tshering (chief, Nature, Recreation & Ecotourism Division – NRED), ministry of agriculture and forests, Bhutan), Christian Rogerson (professor, School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Johannesburg, South Africa), Adama Bah (Travel Foundation Programme Manager, Gambia) and Suman Billa IAS, secretary tourism, Government of Kerala and Dr V Venu IAS joint secretary, ministry of culture, Government of India.

Kerala has emerged as one of the prime tourism destinations on the national and international map and is considered as the tourism trendsetter in the country. The availability of plenty of natural resources, skilled manpower, supportive entrepreneurial community, strong local-self-governments, civil society organisations, multitude of micro enterprises, streams of professionals and academicians, responsible media and responsive tourism industry, provide the state an ideal setting to implement and practice RT.

RT, an innovative and far-reaching concept of Kerala Tourism completed its phase one programme with noticeable milestones. As a pilot phase, this initiative was implemented at four destinations viz Kovalam, Kumarakom, Thekkady and Wayanad. Among these destinations Kumarakom evolved as the success model for responsible tourism and was honoured by ministry of tourism, Government of India for the best RT initiative in Kerala.

Kerala has initiated several steps to promote RT for the last three years and it is in this context that the international conference is planned to deliberate on the perceptions and practices on RT looking closely at the various aspects of triple bottom line. The plenary session would be able to take stock on the academic premises of RT in the international scenario while the corresponding sessions deliberate on specific aspects of RT practices.

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