Kerala tourism to welcome only responsible investors

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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala tourism has ended the ‘blanket welcome’ policy for tourism investors. It will roll out the red carpet only for those investors who are willing to be ‘responsible tourism’-compliant. There will be no government support for ventures that have no Responsible Tourism (RT) classification.
The RT Classification, which was launched way back in February 2011, became operational by the end of May 2013. The classification is for tourist accommodation providers such as hotels, resorts, heritage homes, ayurveda resorts, serviced villas, houseboats and homestays. Tourism secretary Suman Billa said that all hotels and resorts in Kumarakom would be declared RT-complaint on June 27, at the inauguration of the International Conference on Responsible Tourism.
He said that capital and power subsidies would be limited to RT-compliant units. As of now, any new tourism unit was entitled to capital subsidy and power tariff concessions. “Henceforth, we'll be selective. A new tourism venture can claim these benefits only if it conforms to the standards prescribed in the classification process,” the tourism secretary said. The incentives are only for five years. Suman Billa said that he was also working on certain incentives to nudge established units to secure RT classification.
The criteria for the classification are developed on the basis of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC). “An RT classification will be considered a written assurance that a business, product, process, service, or management system conforms to a specific standard,” the tourism secretary said. A marketable logo is given to those that meet or exceed the prescribed standard using variouscriteria and related indicators.
The classification divides total points of 1000 among four responsibility categories: sustainable management (200); socio cultural responsibility (250); economic responsibility (250); environmental responsibility (300). Properties that have scores between 750– 1000, 600–749 and 500–599 will be classified as Platinum, Gold and Silver respectively.

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