Tourism is an ancient culture in India. It’s our attraction towards tourism which has familiarized us with different cultures. To closely understand the cultural diversity of India, foreign tourists have been visiting India since ancient times. Today, foreign tourists visiting india are not only interested to visit historical places and gardens but want to have an overview of our rich culture. They are more inclined towards India’s folk dance, folk songs and handicrafts. And therefore, rural tourism is an important sector for economic development.
Tourism is the second largest industry in the world, and in India it makes up about 10% of GDP. The number of foreign tourists visiting India is also on the rise. Visualizing the immense potential in tourist industries, the Government of India has sanctioned the development of 125 rural tourism spots in 27 states with an allocation of Rs. 50 lacs each. These funds have been used to enhance basic facilities at tourist places with special focus on hygiene and sanitation.
As a result, more tourists are attracted towards these tourist spots in rural areas. However, no studies has been undertaken to assess the contribution of tourism in rural economic development during last decade. But rural tourism has at least got its identity in the map of tourism industry of India.
Bal Mukund Namdev, an expert in rural tourism, says, “Rural tourism leads to economic development at local level. Local people are linked to the new avenues at the places which are identified under rural tourism. They were given training in hospitality and cooking. Along with this, local artists and cultural exhibitions are also being promoted. Local artesians are getting the opportunities to exhibit their art and market has been developed for their products.”
Most of the rural tourist spots are located near famous tourist places in India. In Madhya Pradesh, an innovation has been done which aims to facilitate the night halt of the tourist in rural tourist spots adjacent to big spots. Though the desired success has not been achieved, but it succeeded to fetch the attention of tourist to such spots.
Central government is committed to promoting rural tourism, but it requires extensive investment to execute its commitment. Its unique selling points can be increased by associating them with local fairs, festivals and other occasions. In Gujarat, it has been linked with kite festival which yields considerable results. Shaam-E-Sarhad (Sunset at the Border) village resort, owned and operated by the Village Tourism Committee of the indigenous people from Hodka village in Gujarat, is a well maintained rural tourism site and attraction which borders with Pakistan. But it is significantly important to include these sites in the tourist circle. After including them in the tourist circle, Indian and foreign tourists can be attracted to such place through marketing strategies.