What the world can learn from sustainable tourism in Kerala


Beautiful sunset over the backwaters in Kerala, Southern India

These days, lying under the warm sun, soaking up spring in my hometown Dehradun (luckily I’m in lockdown here!), I’ve been thinking a lot about Kerala. Just a few weeks ago, I was lost in the bountiful south’s magical beauty. Cycling along bright yellow marigold fields. Hiking amid the mist-engulfed Western Ghats. Devouring organic, sumptuous, vegan Kerala meals off banana leaves. And devouring stories of kindness, humility, entrepreneurship and humanity from the many souls I met along the way.

Being in an unprecedented lockdown has led to many of us discussing the future of travel. We have no idea when the on-going crisis will be behind us. Or what the world – and travelling in it – will look like thereafter.

But one thing is for sure.

Responsible travel will become more important than ever. After all, nature might have wrecked havoc on us to remind us of the havoc we’ve been wrecking on her.

When Kerala Tourism reached out to me with their latest campaign on the ‘humanscape’ of Kerala, it immediately reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to write. Responsible tourism lessons for India and other developing countries, from my travels across ‘god’s own country’:

  • Create linkages between vocational skills training and responsible tourism
  • Support dying art forms by creating value for the time and knowledge of local artisans
  • Leverage environmentally-conscious luxury travel for employment opportunities
  • Tap indigenous wisdom for wildlife conservation
  • Encourage tourism as a means to support sustainable development in rural villages, not an end in itself
  • Lower carbon emissions through local plant-based cuisine

This is an excerpt from an article by Shivya Nath, originally published on The Shooting Star.  

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