In a state like Kerala abundant in bio-diversity and environmental splendor, preserving the potential tourism resource thereby ensuring complete ecological balance is a matter of requisite. Tourism is an industry in Kerala that generates more income to the Government including the inflow of foreign currencies obtained by currency exchanges and that can be used for foreign trades. The popularity of the state has reached to zenith that people around the world adore Kerala. Tourism is the only industry playing a significant role in the social, economic as well as political development offering wider opportunities for employment. Still, many places are hidden which are having an immense possibility to get established as a tourist destination but locals around the place give lesser concerns for developing such places. So, develop a place that is rich in biodiversity and scenic splendor, it is the combined effort taken by both Government as well as communities there. In this concept, the community reserve tourism has taken birth. When it comes to the matter of protecting an environment, the responsibility equally comes to the shoulder of each and every individual living in that area. As a first step, central Government put forward the discovery of community reserves in the country.
Community reserves are the protected areas that are identified by Central Government and maximum protection is ensured to the biodiversity of that place.
Everyone has been to a Kerala trip in their lifetime and has watched tourist attractions that have earned popularity from years. But, as a change, try to inquire about these places having community reserves so that by visiting so, a better understanding of nature is obtained. Selecting a community reserve as a place of leisure can contribute to broader understanding of culture obtained by creating awareness and respect for the vast diversities of nature there and ways of life. Prior to the visit, it is important to understand what community reserve tourism is and what are its implications? And Kerala’s pride, Kadalundi reserve, the first of its kind in the state.
The concept of Community Reserve Tourism
As the name suggests, it is the type of tourism where local residents, rural folks, invite tourists to step foot in their community, that is splendid with unique natural attractions with the provision of overnight stays. By doing so, it enables travellers to discover new lands, habitat, wildlife, culture, traditions and rituals. Responsible tourism is another upcoming revolution in the tourism industry in Kerala. Community Reserve Tourism is an initiative by central Government both aiming to transmit experience rather than mere information. Nature lovers are getting a chance to behold vast areas where wild is nurtured with the guidance of a local explaining the facts of that particular place and sharing experiences and traditional uses of plants and local forest resources. This strategy, in fact, ensures creating awareness to people by the interesting way and by visual inspection. It is not just nature which is getting benefited but instead, the local communities living in that area. This is the same concept of responsible tourism that is allowing an alternate way of development for poor communities residing in that particular area and thereby ensuring an additional income for them apart from their livelihood. It is a great opportunity for tourists to unravel the daily lives of indigenous people and giving helping hands for them in preserving their culture and environment of their land.
Benefits of Community Reserve Tourism
This initiative set forward by Central Government has great motives to protect bio-diversity reserves and following points attribute to the benefits put forward by Community Reserve Tourism.
- Since Communities are involved in the tourism activities, an additional income generation by locals is made possible although they depend upon other livelihoods.
- By doing so, indirectly a response is given to the shoulders of the local people to conserve nature and they will get more concerned about the environment.
- Rural development and natural resources sustainability are the prime objectives by welcoming projects of an international organization and donor countries.
- Local origination working in those areas including families and other communities will be strengthened.
- Selling of community-based products as an integrated one
Why is Kerala suitable in progress this initiative?
We know that Kerala is one of the places in India giving richest sources of natural attractions and hence widely called as the greenest destination in the whole country. These tourist destinations are known for their natural beauty and for this reason, many tourists arrive Kerala. Annually, the number is getting increased and taking into consideration of the potential tourism benefits, many Travel agencies are sprouting daily. They will assign some tour packages that are having some specialties to enthrall the travellers coming to Kerala covering all destinations.
The benefit of taking a package is that they will get all services by giving a definite amount that is labeled as its price. These Prices of Kerala tour packages are actually the income of travel agents which they will give to the local communities in a specific area by availing their service. These prices are the overall amount needed for covering a trip. Adventure packages will have a different price for community Reserve Tourism, some part of this amount is given to local authorities by the agents. Hence, the tour packages and its prices are major sources of income for the state and in community reserve tourism; this is indirectly increasing the living standards of people in that area. One such destination in Kerala, discovered by Central Government is the best referral to analyze the prospectus and problems of initiating Community-based Tourism in Kerala. This typical community reserve in Kerala is Kadalundi Vallikunnu community Reserve.
Kadalundi-Vallikkunnu Community Reserve, an arena for sustainable tourism
This is one among the three community reserve in India, and Kerala’s first which was declared in 18 Th October 2007. Lying to the western side of Northern Kerala, Kadalundi is a part of Kozhikode and Vallikkunu, comes under, Malappuram.
Crossed by the Kadalundi river bank, this estuary land is measuring up to 150 hectares of land and is a part of coastal tourism.
Coastal tides touch the estuary land and making favorable for a bio-diversity space. The reason why this land is protected is the area is completely filled with mangrove vegetation and is a haven for migratory birds in winter. Thus, Government has declared it as a community reserve to give maximum protection to the rare forests, birds, fauna, flora in that region ensuring sustainable tourism. The people living in that area is participating in travel activities by ensuring its protection. Apart from mangrove vegetation, there are water splendid areas that are perfect for fishing. Migratory birds visit this place seasonally. The mangrove forests are a reason to flourish different aquatic species like parts, crabs, grey mullet, Tiger prawn, shrimps etc. The migratory birds visiting this place are herons, sun birds, gulls, sandpiper, parakeets etc. A Large portion of shallow wetland is exposed with these inter tidal fluctuations. During low tides, the tidal flood water will recede.
Presence of mangrove vegetation, migratory birds, fishing areas is attracting botanists, nature enthusiasts in great number. They are so interested in watching the attractions and getting knowledge about the significance of this diversity. Locals will guide them throughout and shares necessary information. Kadalundi reserves ensure opportunities for people from research, education spheres. The diversity or the versatility of that place come up with the resource utilization, fishing, Sand mining to shell mining, oyster catching, Mussel farming. There is inhabitation in those area presently three main spaces. Balathuruthy having 160 families, Cheruthuruthi with 30 families and Kakathuruth is nurturing 3 families. These local people are those caring the ecology of Kadalundi community reserve.
Challenges faced by Kadalundi Reserve
Even after adopting Community Reserve Tourism, the area still faces some menaces in several aspects and some activities and strategies must be crafted to mitigate the same. The scarcity of drinking water is the problem faced by this area due to saline infiltration. Several projects are underway to provide drinking water to the community. The eco-development activities must focus on flowing issues of the place
- Plan for Drinking water Management
- Education Uplift
- Plan for Product diversification
- Pan for Waste management and Mangrove vegetation
Of these, protecting mangroves is the most crucial one. The dependence of people in Mangrove trees for the various purposes must be managed. Awareness and providing alternative sources is the only solution. Kerala can take pride in nurturing such land that is blessed with mangrove vegetation and community Reserve Tourism is the new trend of tourism that is aiming ecological conservation and lifestyle stabilization simultaneously and we hope the travel agents can ensure this by crafting best trip packages to this location with moderate prices.