Kerala Forest Department generated an income of INR 137.31 crore through ticket sales from eco-tourism activities conducted by various wildlife divisions in 2017-18. Known to be the first state in India with a dedicated tourism department focusing on “Responsible Tourism Mission” (RT Mission).
Launched in 2017 by the Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr Pinarayi Vijayan, Responsible Tourism Mission has worked to develop local environmental initiatives, women empowerment and eradicating poverty. With almost 60 sites developed as eco-tourism hotspots, God’s own country houses spots such as the scenic Athirappilly waterfall, also known as Niagara of India, which generated about INR 47.77 crore followed by Parambikulam division with a sum of INR 29.41 crore.
Forest revenue generated a total of INR 245.42 crore in 2017-2018, while the total expenditure for that financial year was INR 587.15 crore. The eco-tourism spots seeing a vast number of visitors with almost 12.68 lakh visitors in the same period, as many as 24,537 foreigners and 42,032 students visited these spots. Of Kerala’s total geographical area, 29.65 per cent is forest, including six national parks, 17 wildlife sanctuaries and one community reserve.
The 400 forest protection committees and 190 eco-development committees play a considerable role in promoting eco-tourism, by ensuring inclusivity of tribesmen in the area as watchers, guides and guards through employment. Kerala also has a healthy wildlife population with the tiger populace alone increasing by 73 to 190 in the past 35 years.
Completed with a solar-powered airport, eco-friendly resorts, unique nature zone stays and multiple eco-tourism destinations, Kerala is one of the best eco-friendly tourist destinations in India bringing together social and environmental equilibrium.