Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rural Tourism in India

You’ll Know India Through Its Villages” – Mahatma Gandhi

Exploring Rural India

The tourism sector of the country has seen exponential growth over the last few decades. On the 27th of September, we celebrate World Tourism Day, a day when countries showcase their tourism potential worldwide. Being a vast country, India offers numerous tourism opportunities to vacationers.
However, if one wishes to feel the true richness of the beauty and cultural diversity of India, one must spend some time at an ethnic village.

A Rural Tourism package enables a tourist to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and spend a few moments closer to nature. The amazing tranquillity offered by a stay at a mud and thatch cottage while living a healthy lifestyle in the wild outdoors simply has to be felt to be believed. In India, where more than 70 percent of the population reside in villages, the concept of Rural Tourism has a bright future.

Trip To A Village

A Rural Tourism package is a platform that enables tourists to experience the lifestyle, culture, arts and crafts of a village in its traditional setting. The tenet of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ or ‘Guest is God’ is practiced more in rural India than anywhere else, and offers tourists a taste of Indian hospitality at its best.

On arrival, guests would be greeted in the traditional style with garlands of flowers and offered native attire such as turbans to wear. Meals at the host’s house will be served in local utensils in the customary style. Food includes the staple diet of the locals and drinks such as lassi or tender coconut water. For sightseeing, the guests will be taken on quiet nature treks through the picturesque surroundings of the village over its charming country landscape. They will also be shown nearby heritage sites and tourist attractions such as temples, caves and monuments.

Local crafts and cottage industry offer tourists a unique shopping experience where exquisite products may be purchased at low rates. Tours to local artisan workshops offer guests a glimpse into how these carefully crafted works of art are created. Folk music, dance and cultural entertainment shows are held to display the rich traditions of the region. Other activities offered at village holidays may include herbal massages, spa treatments, yoga and other traditional Indian forms of healing.

Ever since the launch of the Rural Tourism Scheme, the amount of tourists coming to villages has shown a steady increase. Factors such as the growing interest in culture, improved infrastructure in villages and environmental consciousness have also contributed to the growth of rural tourism.  Both foreign tourists and domestic visitors are attracted by the serene simple life offered by ethnic villages.

The long term success of Rural Tourism in India depends on the proper maintenance of tourism sites and the training given to the host family and village youth in entertaining tourists. Increased investment in this lucrative sector will go a long way to ensure that economic development percolates down to the grassroots level.

Initiatives To Promote Rural Tourism

The villages of India are one of the strong points of the country, as it is here that the ‘real India’ resides. After studying the socio- economic benefits that Rural Tourism could offer to the village community, the government launched a number of programmes to encourage investment in this sector.

In the National Tourism Policy, the government laid special stress on the development of the country through the promotion of Rural Tourism. Later, the Rural Tourism Scheme was launched by the Ministry of Tourism. This scheme provided for the beautification and creation of infrastructure in certain villages selected for their tourism potential. It offered financial assistance to State Governments for carrying out landscaping, fencing, improvement of roads, illumination, construction of wayside amenities, signage, tourist accommodation, renovation of monuments and other related activities in the designated villages.

Likewise, State Governments have also launched various programmes to develop and popularize Rural Tourism. Along with adding value to the experience of a tourist, this form of tourism required very little investment while providing high returns. This has made Rural Tourism an attractive venture even with private enterprises and tour operators. Here are some rural tourism initiatives in India –

Empowering and Transforming Rural India

The fragmentation of farmland and growing mechanization of agriculture led to people needing less manual labour for farm activities. This resulted in large scale unemployment, poverty, migration to cities and stress on urban infrastructure. In 2002, the government introduced the National Tourism Policy, which focussed on rural tourism. Along with showcasing the natural beauty of our villages, this form of tourism also aimed at bringing about socio economic benefits to villages and reducing migration to urban areas.

Any form of tourism that showcases ethnic life, art, culture and heritage at rural locations, thus offering economic and social benefits to the village community as well as allowing interaction between natives and tourists for a more enriching tourism experience is known as rural tourism. Rural tourism is usually based in the open countryside, and may include farm or agricultural tourism, eco tourism, cultural tourism, wellness tourism and adventure tourism. Compared to conventional tourism, rural tourism is more experience oriented and is conducted in sparsely populated locations in a natural environment. Rural tourism trips are usually held to coincide with local events and festivals to offer tourists a glimpse of the culture, heritage and traditions of the village they visit.

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  1. Nice write-up.Rural tourism booming in India.

  2. India plans to strengthen its rural tourism project so as to expose the country’s unique rural way of life to foreign visitors.

  3. Thanks for writing this great blog entry its very helpful for those searching/looking for rural experiences around India.
    in the series of above i wants to add HACRA rural and community tourism in Thar desert Rajasthan


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