Kottayam: After receiving international recognition for its model responsible tourism initiatives, Aymanam village in Kottayam district of Kerala is implementing the innovative ‘STREET’ project for visitors.
‘STREET’ stands for ‘Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic, Tourism hub’. The project was prepared by the Responsible Tourism Mission of the Kerala Government based on the latest theme of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), ‘Tourism for inclusive growth.’
“STREET will, in fact, democratize tourism and also offer a new experience to travellers,” said K Rupesh Kumar, coordinator of the Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission.
The project will be implemented in wards 1 and 20 of Aymanam panchayat. Streets in these wards will be spruced up to highlight various themes such natural scenery, ethnic cuisine, traditional lifestyle and backwater views which are the specialities of Aymanam. When the project- carried out under a public-private partnership- takes off, various areas in the village will be known as Green Street, Cultural Street, Ethnic Food Street, Agri-tourism Street, Water Street and Art Street. The term of the ‘STREET’ project is four years.
“We will soon decide which all works in this regard should be taken up initially,” said Sabitha Premji, president of the Aymanan panchayat.
The pastoral charm of Aymanam village in Kerala, which was the setting of Arundhati Roy's 1997 Booker Prize-winning 'The God of Small Things', was featured in Conde Nast's 30 best places in the world to visit in 2022.
Aymanam, located on the state's picturesque backwaters near Kottayam, shot into prominence in November last year, when its Responsible Tourism (RT) Village project was awarded 'Indian Responsible Tourism One to Watch' at the World Travel Market (WTM) for its travel initiatives showcasing heritage and culture while keeping things clean and plastic-free besides creating more community jobs.
The village, bordered by Lake Vembanad and River Meenachil, is "the stuff that makes people dream of taking a writing retreat to become a published author, or plugging out in a digital detox, or living a simple life close to nature," points out Conde Nast in its commendation of the place.
It also beckons tourists to visit Aymanam for undertaking bird watching tours, walking in paddy fields, visiting temples and churches, watching the martial art Kalaripayattu and the classical dance Kathakali, enjoying boat rides, and savouring delicious coconut-rich preparations.
"Aymanam may be a tiny village, but its pristine charm is spellbinding and its cultural diversity spectacular. Till recently, it was largely an unexplored area for tourists, but its recognition as a model RT Village has changed its profile on the global tourism map. The recognition by Conde Nast is a huge testament to it," said Kerala Tourism Minister PA Muhammad Riyas.
"It is an important recognition which will spur us to give an impetus to our efforts to set up Responsible Tourism projects across the state," added the minister.