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Madhya Pradesh is set to launch Responsible Tourism (RT) on the lines of the Kerala government’s initiatives that strive to make tourism a tool for the development of villages and local communities.

Kerala Tourism’s RT Mission will implement the project in the central Indian state under a 16-point programme. An official agreement in this regard is scheduled to be signed on January 13.

On the eve of the ceremony, a high-level delegation from Bhopal will begin a week’s tour of Kerala to gather first-hand knowledge about RT in the State. The 13-member team is to be led by Madhya Pradesh Tourism and Culture Department Minister Usha Thakur.

A few States in the country are implementing the Kerala-model RT, but Madhya Pradesh will be the first to sign a pact with the government. The nodal officers for the project will be Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board Director Manoj Kumar Singh and Kerala RT Mission coordinator K. Rupeshkumar. Once the delegation from Bhopal returns, a team of Kerala RT Mission will make a visit to Madhya Pradesh.

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Kerala’s Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran expressed pleasure over other States emulating Kerala’s RT model. “Of late, other states also have evinced interest in launching the Kerala-model RT. We will be happy to cooperate with them in implementing RT as a social development initiative,” he added.

Kerala Tourism Secretary Rani George said the RT Mission has 20,000 units and 109,000 beneficiaries in Kerala. It has given local people a combined income of Rs 38 crore from the state’s tourism sector.

Kerala Tourism Director P. Bala Kiran said the launch of RT in other parts of the country opens before the state a wide range of opportunities. Our RT Mission can provide its expertise to other states as a professional service.

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RT in Kerala emerged as a state mission in October 2017 from what began as a project in four centres of Kottayam district. From then on, the endeavour which strives for social, economic and environmental responsibilities has been winning several national and international honours including the World Travel Market (WTM) award 2020.

The Kerala Tourism’s MoU with Madhya Pradesh features a 16-point programme. They are the following: implement Kerala’s RT projects in Madhya Pradesh in ways that suit that state, to help Madhya Pradesh chart its RT masterplan, to ready the human resources to implement the project, conduct training projects, list the criteria for the formation of district tourism promotion councils, locate sustained tourism projects so as to carry out RT projects, formulate social and economic security measures, help in gradation of hotels, resorts and homestays, form tourism clubs, lavatories and restrooms on lines of Kerala’s RT,

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The programme also include : discover human resources in respective tourism centres, find out regional craft and make souvenirs out of them in tune with RT, carry out tourism packages during celebratory occasions, conduct study on the security of tourist centres and their audit, train staff in social tourism projects and formulate the code of conduct in tourist centres.

RT has succeeded in grooming new tourist centres and enabling the state in implementing the pioneering project called PEPPER (People’s Participation for Participatory Planning and Empowerment Through Responsible Tourism). The core idea of the project is to render services locally for the tourism industry. It provides the tourists an experience of the state’s rural life, and sourcing food for hotels and resorts from the people in the vicinity.