Harnessing the potential of Indian villages in exploring rural tourism destinations

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A hut at Machli in Sindhu Durg.  File
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A hut at Machli in Sindhu Durg. File | Photo credit: Special Arrangements

Mathur is a village in Karnataka where the inhabitants speak only Sanskrit. Machli in Maharashtra is an agricultural home surrounded by coconut, betel and banana plantations. The endangered Great Indian Bustard is a frequent visitor to Bishnoi village in Rajasthan. These are places where tourists can immerse themselves in the countryside. Tourism The experience is that the government is developing now.

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The Central Nodal Agency – Rural Tourism and Rural Homestays (CNA – RT and RH), a liaison body between the Centre, states and other stakeholders, has identified six specific experiences for tourists wishing to visit rural India. , including agriculture, art and culture, ecotourism, wildlife, tribal tourism, and homestays. More than 134 villages are listed, each offering unique experiences to tourists. The list will only grow.

For example, Kolokamalai in Tamil Nadu has the largest tea plantation in the world. Kerala’s Devalukam is a riverside yoga center. Nagaland’s Konyak Tea Retreat takes visitors on a journey through tribal culture. Pochampalli village of Telangana showcases its traditional weaving techniques. And the village of Pragpur in Himachal Pradesh immerses visitors in the cultural heritage of Kangra.

Based on the experience, tourists can sample local cuisine, see how crops are grown, participate in textile weaving, observe folk art practice and performance, and community interaction. One can walk on the nature trails while staying inside.

Also read this | Ever tried walking in India? Meet locals doubling as historians and blaze trails.

Sustainable tourism

Central to this rural push is sustainability, avoiding large-scale infrastructure development, and without much private sector involvement. Instead, efforts will be made to involve local resources and communities to provide a unique organic experience, said a senior tourism ministry official. This will increase employment opportunities in villages.

The Union Ministry of Tourism is in the process of formulating a budget, in which some training modules at the district levels are 100% centrally funded, and 60% central and 40% state funded for other aspects.

While comprehensive data on global rural tourism trends is lacking, US-based market research firm Grandview Research estimates that agritourism alone will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.4 percent from 2022 to 2030. will

Village clusters

Kamakshi Maheshwari, nodal officer of CNA-RT and RH, said an important part of the strategy to promote rural areas is to identify clusters of five to seven villages in close proximity. A cluster will offer more tourist attractions than rural tourism projects in isolated villages over long distances. It can also help market local products of a group of villages through craft markets.

The Central Nodal Agency has asked the states to identify both individual and clusters of villages with high potential for tourism development. The government is also looking at the Ministry of Rural Development’s Rurban Clusters, which identify clusters of villages that have development potential. The Ministry of Rural Development has also been asked to explore the possibility of creating assets under MGNREGA for tourism infrastructure.

The government is also exploring organic agriculture areas developed under the Parampargat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development in North East Region (MOVCD-NER) for development as rural tourism destinations.

“Rural tourism can not only revive local arts and crafts and prevent viable traditional occupations from being displaced, but it can also help redevelop rural areas and revitalize rural life, creating new jobs and business opportunities. will also help to do this,” the National Rural Tourism Strategy document said.

The Ministry of Tourism is also working on launching state evaluation and rating criteria to reach the core objectives of promoting competitiveness and promoting sustainable and responsible tourism.

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