Project information

Save Alleppey

Backwater tourism around Alleppey is a valuable source of local employment and income, with up to 6000 people estimated to be involved. However, it is expanding in an unregulated and unsustainable way and rural communities in the backwaters are experiencing a range of adverse impacts.

February 2015 - November 2015

Charity information: Tourism Concern

Tourism Concern logo
  • Need


    1. Unregulated expansion with ever more boats, many unregistered, and large operators from outside the area increasingly involved.
    2. Pollution – dumping of sewage directly into the canals; dumping of plastic and other waste
    3. Social issues particularly to do with inappropriate behaviour by tourists – including drunkenness; noise; explicitly sexual behaviour
    4. Invasion by boats mooring wherever they want, and often near to private houses or even directly overlooking them


    As this is a place where UK tourists are taken in their thousands every year, we have a responsibility to raise awareness of the issues, encourage ethical choices, and we can apply pressure for more effective regulation using the power of tourists own voices.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Lobby government for meaningful consultation and effective regulation


    » Ensure all boats are registered. A licensing board for registration of boats exists, but increasing numbers are unregistered.
    » Community consultation, including on specific routes for houseboats, which could ameliorate some of the negative social impacts.
    » Effective regulation of waste disposal, including sewage.

    What success will look like

    Current legislation being enforced, with new regulation being developed if necessary including via consultation with communities.

    Aim 2

    Change behaviour – tourists and tour operators


    » Undertake a carrying capacity study of the area in terms of numbers of boats
    » Establish guidelines for appropriate tourist behaviour.
    » Assist local people in their call for people-centred, sustainable tourism.
    » Develop a code of practice for houseboat operators, ideally posted on every boat, in order to show their commitment to good practice.

    What success will look like

    All boats adopt a code of conduct that is prominently displayed.

    Aim 3

    Raise awareness


    » Raise awareness with UK tourists and with UK Tour Operators in order to inform ethical choices and provide a lever for change

    What success will look like

    UK tourists understand the issues and both seek out ethical tour operators and encourage appropriate behaviour when touring the backwaters.

  • Impact


    Sustainable tourism in Alleppey that provides long term economic benefits, including for local people, without destroying the environment or their current way of life.


    That local people don't have a say in sustainable development.
    We are partnering with local NGOs and community groups in Kerala, India, who are involved in the day-to-day work of project work in the Alleppey area. They have convened more than 20 local community meetings to discuss issues to do with tourism, which have led to the setting up of representative groups, which facilitate ongoing discussion and professional training on a range of related topics including rights awareness


    Quarterly narrative reporting

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £15,500

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £3,000 Campaign Awareness / lobbying
      £4,000 Project Manager UK Project Manager
      £3,000 Community Worker India Community Worker
      £3,000 Code of Conduct Code of Conduct for tour operaters
      £1,000 Management Mangement costs (UK / India)
      £1,500 Admin Finance and admin costs (10%)

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Individual donors £4,500 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Alleppey is one of the most important tourist areas in the state of Kerala, southern India, with a large network of inland canals earning it the sobriquet "Venice of the east". These backwaters provide Alleppey its lifeline, having been used for centuries for transportation, agriculture and fishing and more recently by tourists, who explore in thatched houseboats.


    More than 20,000 people who live in Alleppey, plus many times more who live in the wider region, including the backwaters to the north.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Tourism Concern is the only charity campaigning for ethical and fairly traded tourism. We have a long history of working in India with community partners and including successfully working with communities in the Alleppey area.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Peter Bishop

    Project Manager UK

    Sudha Soni

    Community coordinator based in Kerala

    Mark Watson

    Executive Director - Tourism Concern

“The houseboats are threatening our livelihood. The fish stock is also reducing,”

K. Raju, a fisherman from Kainakari.