Trivandrum: Kerala Tourism has been conferred the top United Nations Award for its global leadership in creating innovative initiatives for sustainable tourism, the first time India has ever won the recognition.
Kerala Tourism walked away with the top honours at the annual United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism presented on January 22 in Madrid.
In its biggest international recognition to date, Kerala Tourism won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, the highest honour given to government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives.
Kerala Tourism was awarded for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.
The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.
“Kerala, a popular ecotourism destination, portrays responsible and sustainable tourism in an exceptional manner”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, at the awards ceremony. “This recognition conferred upon the State is a great step towards creating a better understanding among other destinations of the principles we stand for.”
This is the first time India is figuring on the list of UNWTO Award winners. Last year, the Ministry of Tourism of Malaysia had won the Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance for its Homestay Experience Programme.
“We are humbled by the UNWTO’s decision to confer this highest international award on our State,” said Kerala Tourism Minister Shri A P Anil Kumar. “It is a recognition of our continuing efforts to sustain global tourism, which can progress only if we consider the local community as our biggest partner.”
Kerala Tourism Secretary Shri Suman Billa, received the Ulysses Prize at a glittering awards ceremony at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR).
Instituted in 2003 by UNWTO, the United Nations agency for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, the Awards showcase innovation and application of knowledge in tourism with the aim of effecting governance and society.
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