Kovalam

The first meeting to prepare for the RT implementation at Kovalam was held on 8th May 2007. The District Level RT Committee and the working groups in economic, environmental and social areas were formed on this day. The DLRTC met once again on 28th Nov 2007. RT was formally launched in Kovalam on 14th May 2008. The geographical area of RT comprised of Vizhinjam, Venganoor and Kottukal Panchayats.

The list of respondents who acted as sources of information in Kovalam is given in Appendix 3.1.

Implementation of RT at Kovalam achieved little success, stated mainly due to the absence of involvement by the local self governments. The discussion of RT at Kovalam is briefly presented here because of the lack of much activity in RT implementation.

DLRTC

The list of members of the DLRTC is given in Appendix 6.1. Meetings of the DLRTC were held on 8th May 2007, 28th November 2007 and 5th Sept 2008.

Technical Support Cell

The RT Cell took initiative in forming farmers’ group in Kottukal and Venganoor Panchayats. The first Samrudhi group was formed before the appointment of the Technical Support Cell and did not last long. Intervention of the Cell helped in the formation of a new activity group for the procurement and supply of local products to hotels.

The RT Cell has undertaken various studies and activities to enable launching of social awareness programmes and environment management plans. These include:

  1. Content documentation of attractions and activities of rural Kovalam for the conduct of VLE package tours
  2. Preparation of festival calendar along with description of temples and allied attractions, myths and legends associated for the development of local pilgrim circuits.
  3. Tourism resource mapping that would help in preparing tourism action plans utilizing the local resources.
  4. Preparation of a handbook on local cuisine that could help in creating demand for local produces in the hotels and restaurants.
  5. Identification of locations for providing waste bins and toilet facilities.
  6. Assessment of energy, water and waste management practices of the hospitality industry.
  7. Survey of street lighting to help the Panchayats to take energy saving measures.
  8. Survey on usage of plastic carry bags and production of eco-friendly bags.
The RT Cell has prepared the ground for the implementation of social and environmental responsibilities. Unlike the other three destinations, RT cell did not have much to contribute in the actual implementation of the RT concepts because of the inactiveness of the production units and Samrudhi.

Price fixing and Quality Committees

Quality and Price fixing Committees were formed with representation from Panchayat, DLRTC, Kudumbasree and RT Cell.

Samrudhi

The activity group initially constituted for procurement and supply by Kudumbasree in May 2008 functioned only for one more month. The group was sanctioned Rs. 50000 towards working capital loan. The group started their procurement and supply in May itself. But as per a review report of RT, the procurement and supply activities of this group were inconsistent. There were issues related to quality and pricing. By middle of July 2008, the group withdrew their operation.

After the deployment of the RT Technical Cell in Sept 2008, a reconstituted Samrudhi Activity group started operation in December 2008. Supply to five hotels started. But the supplies of products as well as the demand from hotels were inconsistent while participation of some of the hotels was only nominal. Sale during Dec 2008 and Jan 2009 was about Rs. 29000. Due to lack of support from the Panchayats, the group did not have a place for storing the products collected for distribution to the hotels. The group also did not have any working capital. It is stated that the members of the activity group mismanaged the fund. All these contributed to Samrudhi discontinuing their operations.

Ownership by the local body

Contribution of the LSG suffered a setback in Kovalam because of the unstable political situation in Vizhinjam Panchayat. Though the initiative was started with wholehearted support from all stake holders, the local self governments could not hold the ownership of RT due to uncertainties in the political front.

Ownership by industry

The RT Cell has identified 178 accommodation establishments in Kovalam with breakups as follows:

1-Star 2-Star 3-Star 4-Star 5-Star D Heritage Ayurveda resorts Non - classified Total
1 9 11 4 2 9 31 111 178

Out of the above, the following 21 hotels signed a MoU to partner the RT implementation on 8th May 2007.
  1. The Leela, Kovalam
  2. Hotel Sea Face, Kovalam
  3. Sea Flower Beach Resort, Kovalam
  4. Hotel Greenland, Light House Beach
  5. Hotel Peacock, Light House Beach, Kovalam
  6. Kadaltheeram Beach Resort, G V Raja Road, Kovalam
  7. Hotel Samudra, KTDC, Koalam
  8. Estuary Island Resort, Poovar
  9. Travancore Heritage, Chowara
  10. Surya Samudra, Pulikadi
  11. Poovar Island Resort
  12. Somatheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort
  13. Manaltheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort
  14. Swagath Holiday Retreat
  15. Dr. Franklin Panchakarma Institute
  16. Uday Samudra, Kovalam
  17. M/s. Jeevan Ayurvedic Beach Resort
  18. Shini House, Light House Road, Vizhinjam Post
  19. Leo Resturant, Kovalam
  20. Hotel Surya, Kovalam
  21. Adam Beach Resort, Kovalam
But as seen later, most of the hotels did not participate in RT implementation. One reason of course is lack of a coordinated effort to supply the requirements of hotels. Failure of Samrudhi as a properly functioning supplier is on one side. On the other side is the absence of a pressurizing group to make the hotels committed to partner in RT implementation.

Benefit to the local community

The tour package Village Life Experience was designed to benefit the community directly. Eight persons from Kovalam were given guide training for the operation of 'village life experience' package.

"Zero Tolerance" launched in Kovalam under RT was a campaign against child sex abuse. Campaign

materials were displayed at the hotels and resorts in Kovalam.

The social issues that prevailed in Kovalam were related to waste management, scarcity of drinking water and inadequate awareness of child sex abuse.

Though RT at Kovalam could not do much in the economic front, it has helped in the preparing the ground for implementation of social and environmental responsibilities.

Production systems

On the day of the workshop conducted in May 2007, the discussions lead to preparation of a list of products that can be purchased locally. These products were fish, milk, vegetables, fruits, eggs and meat. The representatives of the industry who participated in the workshop expressed their readiness to cut short the credit period to two weeks in place of the one month they enjoyed at that time. The participating Panchayats expressed confidence in making the supply through agencies like Kudumbasree. The three components in the supply chain starting from production, procurement and supply have to function in tandem. A break in the chain will affect the complete chain. In Kovalam, Samrudhi group that linked the producers and consumers, could not function for long.

Collection and supply mechanism

At the time of the launch of RT in May 2008, an Activity Group was formed for the procurement and supply of local products to the hotels. The destination cell identified 15 items produced locally excluding handicrafts and souvenirs items. The Activity Group supplied these 15 items to five hotels associated with RT implementation and generated a revenue of Rs. 20725 in May 2008.

Changes in the leadership of Vizhinjam Panchayat and internal conflicts of Kudumbasree adversely affected the progress of RT implementation in Kovalam. The supply mechanism further suffered due to the quality issues raised by the hotels.

Intervention of RT Cell helped in the formation of a new Activity Group. But a conflict between the old and the new groups lead to the suspension of procurement and supply mechanism as such.

Local awareness and involvement

During the inaugural workshop held in May 2007, the group that discussed the social responsibility aspect of RT made a suggestion to constitute a peoples’ forum to monitor the conditions of the beaches, check unauthorized constructions and establish a waste management system. The forum was also to preserve the historical monuments and cultural artifacts of Kovalam.
RESPONSIBLE TOURISM KERALA

Department of Tourism
Government of Kerala, Park View
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
India - 695 033
Keral Tourism
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