Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Tourism has won gold at the maiden International Travel and Tourism awards, presented at the World Travel Market (WTM - 2018) in London, for its Responsible Tourism initiative. Kerala Tourism was chosen for the coveted award in ‘the Best in Responsible Tourism in the World’ category, in recognition of its endeavours in promoting eco-friendly and heritage-preserving activities with the involvement of local communities. Kerala has 10,938 units working under Responsible Tourism Mission. Over 50,000 families enjoy the fruits of responsible tourism in the State. Billed as the biggest annual global event for the travel industry, WTM-2018 was held in London from November 5 to 7, generating more than £2.8 billion of business contracts between attendees. The awards, decided by an eminent jury from among international competitors, were instituted in 14 categories. With Kerala Tourism winning the gold in the Responsible Tourism category, the first silver medal went to Cinnamon Elephant Project of Cinnamon Hotels (Sri Lanka) and the second silver to Coral Reef Revival project from Indonesia. Also, Kerala emerged as the finalist in Best Regional/City Campaign for its campaign ‘Live Inspired.’ Other finalist destinations included Canary island, Manchester, for visit Flanders, which won the gold. The Kerala delegation to the 38th edition of the WTM, which attracts global audience that shapes the travel industry, was led by Kadakampally Surendran, State Tourism Minister. The awards were received by Surendran and Rani George, IAS, Secretary, Tourism. Kadakampally Surendran said the credit for this international honor primarily went to the Responsible Tourism Mission for its persistent and systematic efforts in popularising the best practices. “They have also helped local communities at various tourism destinations in the State,” he added. Noting that the laurels were a matter of great pride for the entire State, Rani George said Kerala’s initiatives in Responsible Tourism have earned international attention and have been duly awarded. P Bala Kiran IAS, Director, Kerala Tourism said the award will encourage the State to take forward the Responsible Tourism activities in a more effective manner. Rupesh Kumar, State Coordinator of the Responsible Tourism Mission founded on October 20, 2017, said this award will impart further strength to community-friendly tourism in Kerala.