In the backdrop of increasing concern about irresponsible discarding of waste across the state, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has reminded the tourism industry that cleanliness and hygiene were at the heart of a healthy growth in the tourism sector. Speaking at an event related to the Responsible Tourism Mission at Kumarakom in Kottayam district, the chief minister also reminded tourism operators not to charge extra to visitors for keeping their premises clean.
State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said it was indeed a feather in the cap for the state for being the first place in the world to launch responsible tourism in a local area.
However, even as Kerala takes pride in its advancements in the tourism sector, there are hygiene issues that remain to be addressed. During the chief minister’s visit to Kumarakom recently, a school boy gave him a petition, bemoaning the lack of a public toilet in the famed backwater tourism destination. Rishi R. Menon, a grade seven student in a local school, mentioned in his petition that even while Kumarakom was being bestowed with national and international awards for achievements in tourism, the fact remained that the place did not even have a public toilet. Menon said he petitioned the chief minister because he had not heard from finance minister T.M. Thomas Isaac after having given him a similar petition some time back when Isaac had visited Kumarakom.
The schoolboy pointed out that it was indeed a deficiency that Kumarakom did not have a public toilet, despite being a place frequented by international tourists. Hygiene issues are plaguing other tourism destinations, too. In famous destinations like Munnar, the rise in irresponsible garbage dumping is turning out to be a big challenge for tourism operators.