The development of infrastructure in rural areas having potential for tourism is being supported under the existing scheme of destination development. The objective is to showcase rural life, art, culture and heritage at rural locations and in villages, which have core competence in art & craft, handloom, and textiles as also an asset base in the natural environment. The intention is to benefit the local community economically and socially as well as enable interaction between tourists and local population for a mutually enriching experience. Under this scheme, the thrust is to promote village tourism as the primary tourism product to spread tourism and its socio-economic benefits to rural and its new geographic regions, thereby stopping the exodus from rural to urban areas. The Village Level Council (VLC) is the interactive forum for local community participation in work plan implementation, further supported by other community level institutions. For the visitor, whose expenditure creates revenue for host community service providers, rural tourism adds value through packaged programmes in art & craft imparted by skilled local artisans. Village entertainment groups unveil local history and culture, natural and oral treasures. The visitor thus comes face to face with India’s rural traditions. So far, 153 rural tourism projects in 28 States/Union Territories have been sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism including 36 rural sites where UNDP has supported for capacity building.
Globally recognized Incredible India brand, now supported by the Ministry’s new Explore Rural India subbrand, is strengthening the visitors’ attraction to India as a multiple-interest, all-season destination targeting higher visitor yields.
Community participation in rural tourism has been strengthened through the site artisans’ structured involvement in Dilli Haat, Mega Craft Mela in cities such as Bhubaneswar, Aurangabad etc., India@60 roadshow in Singapore and Volvo Ocean Race in Cochin. Wide media 28 Annual Report 2009-10 and trade focus were also given at the World Tourism Mart (WTM) and International Tourism Bourse (ITB), the world’s principal tourism forums.
At the India@60 event in Singapore, as a unique first-time highlight, eight skilled artisans from four of the Ministry’s UNDP-partnered rural tourism locations showcased their site attraction through impressive on-site art & craft demonstration and display. The eight participating artisans, many of those who travelled overseas for the first time, gained first-hand exposure to international competitive, merchandising and promotional practices. This enabled their extensive direct interface with the tourism trade, consumers, craft stores, corporate organizations, and the media.
The artisans from 5 rural tourism sites participated in the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart held in September 2008 to showcase their arts & crafts.
Rural Eco-holidays: 15 rural tourism sites have been selected as rural eco-holidays sites for Visit India Year 2009. Under this marketing campaign of Visit India Year 2009 foreign tourists are offered one night stay with breakfast on complimentary basis in any one of the chosen rural eco-holiday site. The booking can be done through the Tour Operators approved by the Ministry of Tourism.
The project website www. exploreruralindia.org was upgraded, showcasing the first 29 sites of the Project’s 36 sites which are now ready for marketing.
CNBC Awaaz Travel Awardin 2008 was awarded tothe following two rural tourism sites:
(i) Village Hodka, Distt. Kachchh, Gujarat for Best Tourism Income Generating Community.
(ii) Village Naggar, Distt. Kullu, Himachal Pradesh for Tourism site for Best Demonstrating Women Empowerment.