India lies in her villages. Nearly 95 per cent of the total geographical area of India constitutes rural areas, in which 72 per cent of the total population (70.98 per cent according to 2001 census) lives. Since independence most of the national policies have been focusing upon rural development. But issues like poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, regional imbalances, and environmental degradation through deforestation; health and sanitary factors in rural areas remain unsolved. Many of the planners blame commercial viability for this matter. At the same time these rural areas posses natural and socio -cultural resources, which are fantastic sources for tourism and recreation. Systematic tourism development in rural areas through public participation can contribute towards the socio-economic development of these areas, and on the other hand it can increase the attraction base for the modern tourists, which ultimately bring in foreign currencies and contribute to the GDP of the country. In lieu of the above, the present paper focuses upon the following: •To conceptualize tourism in rural areas.
•To study the challenge that rural India is facing.
To study the socio-economic contribution of tourism to the rural areas. To study what people think about tourism development of their living areas.
The term ‘Rural’ can be characterized by two different features. First, rural people live in a farmstead. The number of houses varies from 5,00 to 10,000. Second, most of the people depend on the agriculture for their livelihood, thus spending most of their working hours on farms. As per these criteria nearly 95 per cent of the total geographical area of India constitutes rural area, in which around 70 % of the total population lives. Despite poverty and infrastructure inadequacy, these areas witness pleasing weather, unpolluted air, natural and scenic beauty, and unique culture, Along with lush green crop fields, which are of great attraction to the urban tourists. If rural tourism properly exploited as visitors’ attractions, these rural areas can have lot of tourist potential, which can contribute to the socio-economic development of the area.
Concept of Rural Tourism
Development of rural tourism is now in its nascent stage. The complexity of attractions makes it difficult to draw an exact definition. However, Lane B (1994) gives a framework. In his view rural tourism should be
•Located in rural areas
•Functionally rural i.e. small scale enterprises, open space, natural contact, heritage, traditional and societal practices etc.
•Rural in scale
• Traditional in character.
•Take different forms representing the complex pattern of rural environment, economy, history and location. According to Getz.D and Page S.J (1997) rural tourism can be described as: •The spectrum i.e. rural and wild.
•The rural appeal i.e. peace, solitude, lifestyle, nature, scenery, traditional people, Recreation and adventure. •the rural product and services.
•Involvement of rural entrepreneurs and operators.
Further Negi JM (1990) enumerated the attractions in rural areas. Which are: •Enjoyment of rural scenery.
•The desire for open space, quiet and piece of mind.
•Rural sports like hunting, fishing etc.
•Ethnic attractions like folk life, custom, food, drinks and festivals. •Educational and historical attractions like castles, churches, temples, monasteries etc. An Overview of Rural Problems
Though problems of rural areas are multidimensional, poverty can be regarded as the source of every problem. Because poor people feel discriminated against, insecure, politically repressed, and victimized by public agencies, this is the psychological dimension of poverty. Other physical dimensions of poverty are material deprivation like lack of money, unemployment, lack of food, clothing and housing and inadequate accessibility to health services and clean water and non-material factors like...