Twenty destinations in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu have become pioneers having received their Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) index score and ranking at micro level. In what can be termed as a first of its kind destination benchmarking assessment in the country, the study was done using the adapted version of online SDG rapid assessment tool with a scale of eighty indicators. Seven destinations including the ecotourism sites of Baralikkadu and Top Slip in Coimbatore, Masinagudi in The Nilgiris, Mannavannur near Kodaikanal; the beautiful hill stations of Megamalai in Theni and Valparai in Coimbatore and the Blue Flag awarded beach of Kovalam near Chennai have been ranked as ‘Leaders’ coded as ‘Ruby’ destinations. Thirteen other destinations including Yercaud, Yelagiri, Hogenakkal, Kutralam, Kolli Hills, Kalrayan Hills, Dhanushkodi, Pichavaram and Tarangambadi were grouped as ‘Aspirants’ or ‘Sapphire’ category destinations.
This research was carried out by Mahadevan P, Madhav Ramesh, and M S Mantri auditors of ‘Green Destinations’. The organization based in The Netherlands is the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) accredited certification body awarding the highest-level certification for tourism destinations across the world. With destination certification process involved in five hundred destinations in eighty countries, ‘Green Destinations’ operates in India through its national representative Sustainable Tourism & Hospitality Innovation, Research & Accreditation. This rank will serve as a preliminary certification for the destinations which can aspire and move ahead and compete with global peers in ‘Green Destinations Awards & Certification Program’ and ‘Top 100 Sustainability Awards’. The study will soon be undertaken in selected tourism sites of Goa, Uttarakhand, Odisha and Sikkim on a pilot basis geographically.