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Rural Tourism: An Asset to Non-Farm Sector

Why is the growth and development of rural economy necessary?

1. India is predominantly a rural country with 2/3rd population and 70% workforce residing in rural areas.

2. Rural economy constitutes 46% of the national income.

3. Though there is an increase in urbanization, population projections indicate that India will continue to be predominantly rural till the year 2050, after which the urban population is estimated to overtake rural population.

4. As per NSSO, more than 1/5th of rural households with self-employment in agriculture have income less than the poverty line.

5. About 2/3rd of the rural income is now generated in non-agricultural activities (manufacturing, construction and service sectors) as the share of agriculture in rural output is 39%.

Which roles does the rural non-farm sector fulfill?

1. Facilitating employment growth.

2. Preventing migration to urban areas.

3. Supplementary remuneration to agricultural income.

4. Acts as a means to cope with farm failures.

What is rural tourism?

1. It showcases the way of rural life, its culture, and heritage.

2. It benefits the local community both economically and socially by enabling interaction between tourists and locals.

National Tourism Policy (2002)

1. It identifies rural tourism as one of its focus areas.

2. A collaborative effort, termed as Endogenous Tourism Project-Rural Tourism Scheme between India and United Nations Development Programme was initiated in 2003.

3. 52 rural sites have been commissioned in India each of them having a specialty.

4. Rural Circuit Development has been included among the 13 thematic circuits identified under Swadesh Darshan which focuses on integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits.

5. The draft Tourism policy of 2015 aims to develop and position India as a “Must EXPERIENCE” and “Must REVISIT” destination.

How are the rural resources mapped for tourism?

1. Resources by virtue of geographical and climatic characteristics of the region, flora and fauna, rivers, landscape, scenic beauty etc. are promoted for Eco-tourism. Example: Wildlife Tours in various parts of the country.

2. Aspects of rural culture like village folklore, handicrafts, textile products, social bonds, etc. are promoted for cultural tourism. Example: Textile Village Tour in Sarai Mohana (Uttar Pradesh).

3. Farming practices like sowing, harvesting, etc. and other specialties are promoted for Farm tourism. Example: Vineyards in Nasik (Maharashtra)

Where to focus in the future?

Capacity building

1. Community mobilization

2. Skill development in areas like hospitality, housekeeping, catering, etc. through National Rural Livelihood Mission, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushal Yojana.

3. Necessary infrastructural facilities such as transport to access the rural destinations, facilities to stay, healthcare facilities, etc. are very essential.

4. There is a need to make Panchayat functionaries aware of the concept and benefits of rural tourism.

5. Support from the State Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Tourism Department of State Governments can act as a catalyst.

Marketing strategies for rural tourism

1. Familiarization trips to rural sites can be organized for travel bloggers and writers.

2. Advertising through government portals, magazines, etc.

3. Use of social media platforms and In-flight magazines to reach higher income sections.