Empowering Coastal Communities in Southern India

Aggressive tourism development along the coast of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in India continues to exploit vulnerable communities, creating a range of human rights issues, from displacement and loss of livelihood, to social and environmental issues. This undermines traditional lifestyles.

Our Tsunami of Tourism campaign (2007-09) raised awareness of many of these issues, and in January 2010 we began a three year DFID-funded project which aims to empower civil society organisations (CSOs) in these communities to participate in tourism decision-making processes, so that their rights and access to resources are upheld and encroachment of their land is prevented.

Tourism Concern  undertook this project in partnership with Indian NGO Kabani – The Other Direction. The project enabled Kabani to link a wide range of local civil society organisations – including women’s groups, community organisations, and fishing co-operatives – in order to campaign in a more co-ordinated and hence effective way.

Project components included:

  • Strengthening networks, identifying common concerns and interest groups, and raising awareness of tourism issues and campaigns. This includes the production of a film highlighting human rights and tourism issues on India’s southern coast.
  • Advocacy training and capacity-building, including the production of six advocacy toolkits and skills workshops.
  • Helping CSOs use the skills developed to advocate for more sustainable policies along the coast
  • Supporting Kabani’s advocacy work challenging current tourism policies and practice in the private and public sector, with due protection afforded to the human rights of coastal communities.

Destination Tsunami online exhibition

Tourism Concern continues to support these efforts through advocacy work with the UK tourism industry and sensitisation of UK holidaymakers. For example, a member of Tourism Concern travelled the project area in 2012 to document the issues and uncover some concrete actions holidaymakers can take.
Our campaign exhibition, ‘Destination Tsunami: Stories and struggles from India’s southern Coast’,  toured the UK for two years. It used striking images by Indian photographer Sohrab Hura to record the impact of tourism on tsunami-affected communities, telling the personal stories of some of those affected. The photographs are still available if your university or organization would like to host the exhibition, or would like a talk about the complex issues raised by this project. Please contact Peter Bishop at peter@tourismconcern.org.uk with your request.


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