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Abstract

Celebrating and Enhancing the Tourism Knowledge
-
based Platform: A Tribute to Jafar Jafari

Mallorca: 23
-
25 October 2013

by Prof. Dr. T. Thimm, Constance University of Applied Sciences, Germany

Theme

Tourism research frontiers

The role of tourism
in society and in the world

Title

Sustainable Tourism in Kerala


a role model for other societies in the world?


1.

Introduction

The Indian state Kerala is positioned by Kerala Tourism as a sustainable tourism
destination for domestic and foreign markets (cf
. Jean
-
Francois 2011). Indeed
sustainable tourism projects take place and are conducted either by NGOs like Kabani or
Equations or private companies like The Blue Yonder or CGH Earth. However there are
critical voices, expressed e. g. by Kerala Tourism Wat
ch, whether Kerala may serve as a
role model for sustainable tourism or whether this is still a far goal to reach. Based on
that controversy this contribution evaluates the tourism activities of Kerala regarding
sustainable tourism on a multilevel scale: t
he official tourism strategy, the grassroot
activities of NGOs, sustainability standards of private companies, the use of sustainable
tourism labels and training activities eg. by the Kerala Institute for Tourism and Travel
Studies (KITTS) and the involvem
ent of communities. All three dimensions of
sustainability i. e. economy, ecology and social issues are examined.

2.

Methodology and Aim

The elaborated scheme of Strasdas et al. (2007) serves as a framework for analyzing the
situation in Kerala. This scheme
that was especially designed for tourism in developing
countries was adapted according to the specific characteristics of Kerala in cooperation
with the Kerala Institute for Tourism and Travel Studies and then applied during a
research stay of the author i
n Kerala in 2013. A method mix was used to collect material
and data: The results are based on one handside on desk research i. e. on the analysis of
documents and websites. Furthermore qualitative in
-
depth
-
interviews with experts and
practitioners of the
Kerala tourism scene were carried out. Participant and non
participant observation in different tourism locations in Kerala completed the
methodology.

The aim is to find an answer to the research questions:

-

Can Kerala be called a sustainable tourism dest
ination?

-

In which way
does it serve as a role model for other societies in the world
?


3.

Findings

Although there are various approaches to sustainable tourism in Kerala, this Indian state
that calls itself “God’s own country” can only partially be called a s
ustainable destination.
The local communities do not participate in any initiative that calls itself “sustainable”.
The projects of Kabani serve as a very good example of a successful combination of
sustainable and community tourism:

“We facilitate commu
nity tourism initiatives, which find their basis in the local population, focussing on the
socio
-
economic security and sustainability of the place. These programmes are community initiatives
focusing on sustainable socio
-
economic development of villages an
d the conservation of natural
resources.”
http://www.kabani.org/

[accessed 30/01/13]

The work of the NGO Kabani will be shown in the presentation as an example of good
practice.

4.

Conclusions

The Indian state of Kerala offers promising approaches towards sustainable tourism.
However, although it is marketing itself as a sustainable tourism destination, this cannot
be confirmed for the entire state as such. The context of a developing country ha
s to be
taken into account.

The transfer of sustainable tourism in Kerala as a role model for other societies in the
world is therefore only partly and under certain circumstances possible.

5.

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