ON THE STATUS OF
RURAL TOURISM IN INDIA
Table of Contents
The Way Forward13
Tourism is one of the primary catalysts in generating sustainable livelihood in India. India’s vast rural diversity and heritage offers tremendous opportunity for rural tourism. The idea of rural tourism was born out of the need to provide first-hand experience of living in rural areas to the urban population and also as supplementary income for the local population. The Ministry of Tourism in its Outcome Budget for 2011-2012 has emphasized on the need of giving greater focus to rural tourism with the objective of creating employment, with specific emphasis on the upliftment of the status of women and to encourage local arts and handicraft. Rural tourism has the potential of carrying the additional burden of uplifting poverty and reducing migration towards urban areas. This research paper aims at studying the status of rural tourism in India, looking into some initiatives that have already been undertaken, both by the Ministry (The Choti Haldwani Project at the foothills of Nainital) and by organisations (NGO ViaDesh, Delhi and Himalayan Homestays, Ladakh) in different parts of India and the way forward. The paper concentrates on the following major areas: 1) Initiatives undertaken
2) Problems faced while trying to establish such initiatives 3) Infrastructure developed for this purpose
4) The finances involved
5) The impact of such initiatives
6) Its co-relation with eco-tourism and agri-tourism
7) Future plans
The government of India along with UN Development Programme (UNDP) has drafted policies and implemented some on the same lines by associating and granting funds to NGOs. Rural tourism will go a long way in realising some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) laid out by the UNDP, to be achieved by 2015.
“The air is soft and balmy. The wild flowers are in full bloom, and the butterfly is on the wing. The grasshopper is singing his ceaseless song, and the bees are humming a chorus thereto.” These are excerpts from Ruskin Bond’s novel “Mussoorie & Landour, Days of Wine and Roses”. Such is the beauty of the Indian landscape. Tourism in India is the biggest service industry contributing 6.23% to GDP and providing a host of employment opportunities. With 5.58 million Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in 2010 and a provisional number of 2.92 million during the first half of 2011, the tourism industry is pegged to grow at a rate of 9.4% annually over the next decade. It’s linkages with a myriad of sectors in the economy, like transport, construction, handicrafts, manufacturing, horticulture, agriculture, etc., makes it a potential economy driver, while also becoming an effective tool for poverty alleviation and ensuring growth with equality. The focus, thus, is now on rural tourism, an avenue that provides immense possibilities and opportunities for inclusive growth and equality in rural India. The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have collaborated in an initiative named the Endogenous Tourism Project – Rural Tourism Scheme (ETP-RTS) on rural tourism. Initiated in 2003, the project identified 36 sites across India, where a number of pilot projects have been initiated to assess the impact of this kind of tourism in these areas. The principal objective of the project is to focus on sustainable livelihoods and at the same time aims at the convergence of issues such as gender equality, empowerment of women, youth and other disadvantaged sections and working towards cultural sensitivity and environmental sustainability. This paper will look into one such government initiative, Choti Haldwani, which is a community based tourism project. Apart from government initiatives, numerous NGOs have been involved in...