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Project Background

In India, the government regards tourism as a panacea for development and is promoting it intensively both nationally and internationally. However, tourism policies and programmes are often biased towards the industry's bigger players. This has resulted in mass tourism with immense negative impacts on local communities and environments. There is a need to address these larger development concerns and Kabani has been facilitating community involved tourism programmes in these communities over the last ten years.

This project will support the village of Mothakkara in Kerala which is an agrarian village in South India.

The farmers in this village are suffering due to low prices, less yield and changes in climate. Its community needs additional income in order to survive and tourism is a way in which they can meet many of their needs. The farmers are mostly practicing mainstream farming practices and depending upon cash crops. Community tourism is envisaged as an interim strategy during their shift from chemical farming to more sustainable agricultural practices based on organic farming.

Tourism & Community Development

The proposed project is an expansion of Kabani’s existing community tourism activities to three new villages. The underlying strategy of the project is to use tourism as a tool to foster sustainable development in the area. The project will help to develop community-led tourism programmes in these three villages.

Tourism Activities - The proposed training programme will enable the villagers to set up their existing homes as home stays in order to generate additional income. The guides (mainly housewives) trained will learn new skills, knowledge of tourism and techniques such as visitor management. Tourism related services will be developed in the village such as taxi services, catering, tours etc.

Training - The training module will address all aspects of tourism, such as its negative impacts, alternatives, communication, interpretation skills, management and monitoring of tourism development in order to make it more sustainable.

The Program - In many cases tourism is considered as a development option. But in the context of this project, tourism is considered as an additional income for the villagers. Here tourism is used as a tool to strengthen the concept of the sustainable development of villages. The project addresses sustainable, participatory local development and sustainable economic development through tourism. The proposed training programmes empower local communities to develop various community development and income generation activities. The whole programme is designed to get as much participation from the whole village as possible. Their participation in decision making, planning, business, benefits sharing and monitoring is ensured.

Key Project Objectives

The aim of the project is to facilitate sustainable development initiatives through responsible tourism in the three South Indian villages. The core objectives of the project are:

1.) To provide additional income and diversify income opportunities for the farmers and other villagers

This will be done by setting up home stays with farmers and empowering the villagers to provide various services to travelers. This additional income from tourism will help support the community as the agriculture sector is currently in crisis.

2.) To enable meaningful participation of local communities (including women and other under privileged groups) in tourism activities

The proposed training programme will help villagers and farmers (no matter their sex or social standing) to understand how they can be part of sustainable tourism and acquire and use various skills, such as decision making, planning, business management and tourism monitoring, to successfully manage community tourism in their villages.

3.) To improve quality of life

The empowerment and their participation in more sustainable and participatory tourism will improve villagers' quality of life significantly (not just economically, but in other aspects of life as well).

4.) To conserve and enhance natural resources and the environment

This is an integral part of the proposed project and training modules include waste management, regeneration of resources and renewable energy education.

Project Partners & Community Involvement

We work with community-based organisations in the locality such as Villagers and Self Help Groups (SHGs). The proposed project will also work with Local Self Government (LSG) in the three localities. We set up village development committees with the participation of women's groups, community based organisations, youth, indigenous communities etc. at the village level. These committees are making decisions, managing the industry and monitoring tourism in a sustainable manner. The elected representatives of Local Self are also part of the committees.

How does this project fit into a larger strategy?

The proposed project is part of a 3 part expansion of our activities to Mothakkara and Thrissileri in Kerala, and Melkotte, near Mysore, Karnataka. All three new villages will prosper by sharing ideas, experience and expertise in sustainable tourism development. Kabani will include these villages into their wider development and marketing plan in order to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the project.

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