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`Long-term tourism strategy vital for sustainable development'

Our Bureau

`Kerala's success as a tourist destination is based on the attractiveness of its natural and cultural environment. And if these environmental and cultural features are not conserved, Kerala's tourism sector will cease to be an engine of development.'

Thiruvananthapuram , Sept. 8

Kerala needs to create a long-term tourism strategy to ensure sustainable development, the Forest Minister, Mr Benoy Viswam, has said.

Speaking at a seminar on `Tourism for Conservation and Development' organised here by the Tourism India magazine and Indian Trade Fair Foundation, he pointed out that tourism has much to contribute to Kerala's development.

The State's success as a tourist destination is based on the attractiveness of its natural and cultural environment. And if these environmental and cultural features are not conserved, Kerala's tourism sector will cease to be an engine of development, he emphasised.

Thus, there is a need for all segments of the tourism sector to promote sustainable tourism in Kerala, he added.

Addressing the gathering, Mr V.K. Soman, a tourism entrepreneur, said that tourism is one of the biggest industries in Kerala. It is, therefore, impossible to keep the tourism sector out of the debate on sustainable development, he added.

Mr Saroop Roy, State Networking Associate of Equations, a non-profit organisation that works in the tourism sector, said there is a need to examine in great detail some of the policies adopted by the tourism industry.

Often, tourism projects in Kerala have no community involvement built into the venture. Sometimes a local community is brought into a tourism project, but is given no say in determining the contours of the project that will affect the community, he added.

In a presentation to the gathering, Mr Gopinath Parayil, Chief Executive of Bangalore-based travel company, The Blue Yonder, pointed out that very often there is no need to create new infrastructure for tourism projects.

Instead, existing infrastructure can be used for tourism ventures simply by involving local communities in the project, he added. Besides ensuring better utilisation of resources and protection of the environment, such steps will bring economic benefits to local communities, he said.

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