Going Rural: Tourism Focuses on India’s Hinterland

Indians believe in holidays: The country has among the largest number of public holidays in the world. Yet the most common reason for getting away is to “visit a native place.” Migrant workers return to their family farms at harvest time. Others return to their villages (and extended families) for an annual pilgrimage. The concept of a holiday where you let your hair down and relax has been accepted only in recent years.

Rural Tourism

The idea of rural tourism is, therefore, a bit of a puzzle for many Indians. They go back to their village every year; why should they pay good money to go to some other village? Rustic charms hold greater appeal for foreign tourists. Concerted government and travel industry efforts to sell India abroad with campaigns such as “Incredible India” began only this decade, but rural tourism as a product is still evolving.

A national tourism policy was introduced in 2002, with rural tourism identified as a focus area to generate employment and promote sustainable livelihoods. “As a part of the National Tourism Policy 2002, the Ministry of Tourism is developing and promoting rural tourism sites which have core competency in art, craft, culture, heritage, handloom, etc.,” Union Ministry of Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee said recently in a statement. According to the 2002 policy, “Special thrust should be imparted to rural tourism and tourism in small settlements, where sizable assets of our culture and natural wealth exist.”

Just what is rural tourism? The government has taken a broad view. “Any form of tourism that showcases rural life, art, culture and heritage at rural locations, thereby benefiting the local community economically and socially as well as enabling interaction between the tourists and the locals for a more enriching tourism experience, can be termed as rural tourism,” says a Ministry of Tourism policy paper. “Rural tourism is essentially an activity which takes place in the countryside. It is multifaceted and may entail farm/agricultural tourism, cultural tourism, nature tourism, adventure tourism and ecotourism. As against conventional tourism, rural tourism has certain typical characteristics: It is experience-oriented; the locations are sparsely populated; it is predominantly in natural environments; it meshes with seasonality and local events; and it is based on the preservation of culture, heritage and traditions.”

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One Response to Going Rural: Tourism Focuses on India’s Hinterland

  1. Sherjeel Awan says:

    U got to be kidding me

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