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Tapping the potential of niche villages in a push for rural tourism

  • Published
    20th Feb, 2023
Context

Amid a global demand for experiential tourism, the country is structuring its plan to attract tourists to villages, for an immersive escape into the culture of rural India, while boosting employment and promoting sustainability.

Key-highlights

  • There are destinations where tourists can immerse themselves in the rural tourism experience that the government is now developing. 
  • More than 134 villages have been listed, each of which provides a set of unique experiences to tourists. The list will only grow.
    • Mattur is a village in Karnataka where residents speak only Sanskrit. 
    • Maachli in Maharashtra is an agrarian homestay surrounded by coconut, betel, and banana plantations. 
    • Bishnoi village in Rajasthan has frequent visits from the endangered Great Indian Bustard. 
    • Tamil Nadu’s Kolukkumalai is the highest tea plantation in the world.
    • Kerala’s Dewalokam is a yoga centre on the banks of a river.
    • Nagaland’s Konyak Tea retreat takes visitors on a trip through tribal culture.
    • Telangana’s Pochampalli village showcases its traditional weaving techniques.
    • Himachal Pradesh’s Pragpur village plunges visitors into Kangra heritage architecture. 
  • The Central Nodal Agency – Rural Tourism and Rural Homestays (CNA – RT and RH) is the coordinating body amongst Centre, States, and other stakeholders.
    • It has identified six niche experiences for tourists wanting to visit rural India, including agritourism, art and culture, ecotourism, wildlife, tribal tourism, and homestays. 
  • Depending on the experience, tourists can sample the local cuisine, see how crops are grown, participate in textile weaving, witness folk art being practiced and performed, and go on nature trails, all the while living within the community.

What is India’s Tourism sector offering?

  • Diversity within its unity: India as a nation offers diversity within its unity, not only in terms of its tribes, cultures, faiths, and ways of life but also in terms of its tourism potential.
  • India has a lot to offer in terms of historical monuments, geographical diversity, climate variances, and the wonders of nature.

Significance of the sector for the Economy

  • The tourism sector contributes around 9% of the country’s GDP. It has its share in employment, revenue, and forex reserves.
  • India’s third-largest source of foreign exchange is the tourism and hotel industry.
  • India’s tourism industry is a significant economic multiplier and is getting more crucial as the nation aims for rapid economic growth and the creation of employment opportunities.

Government Initiatives to promote tourism 

  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme: Under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, the Ministry of Tourism assists State Governments in developing the infrastructure for 13 theme-based circuits that have been designated.
    • A recent budget allocation of Rs. 1,200 crores (US$ 171.70 million) was given for the creation of tourist circuits for eight Northeastern states as part of Swadesh Darshan.
    • The Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD schemes are designed to promote expansion in specialized tourism markets such as wildlife, adventure, wellness, and religious travel.
    • The Swachh Bharat movement has started a significant cleaning campaign to safeguard and maintain the sacredness of national historic monuments.
  • All India Permit Rules 2021: Under the All India Permit Rules 2021, a tourist vehicle operator may apply online for an All India Tourist Authorization/Permit.
  • Dekho Apna Desh: On November 28, 2020, a webinar series entitled “12 Months of Adventure Travel” is projected to market India as an adventure tourism destination.
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