Kurukshetra April 2019 : a Journal on Rural Development (Part-1) (Download PDF)


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Key Topics Included In This Article: Introducing Rural Tourism, Rural Tourism Products, Ecotourism in India, Eco Development project, Major types of Rural Tourism in India, Rural Women, Promoting Sustainable Rural Tourism, Agri tourism, Benefit of Rural Tourism, Benefit to Tourism Industry, Rural Tourism is Important, Review of North Eastern States Tourism Policy & plan for Rural TourismKey Topics Included In This Article, Introducing Rural Tourism, Rural Tourism Products, Ecotourism in India, Eco Development project, Major types of Rural Tourism in India, Rural Women, Promoting Sustainable Rural Tourism, Agri tourism, Benefit of Rural Tourism, Benefit to Tourism Industry, Rural Tourism is Important, Review of North Eastern States Tourism Policy & plan for Rural Tourism.

  • Rural tourism offers tourists an opportunity to get 1st hand experience of farmland activities, like cultivation, sowing & harvesting etc.
  • Provides opportunity to get introduced to artisans & even purchase locally manufactured handicrafts besides gaining insight into diff. ethnic & indigenous practices in rural areas.
  • It benefits rural community by way developing infrastanding facilities, generating employment opportunities for local inhabitants
  • Rural tourism activates promote biodiversity conservation, preservation of regional heritage in terms of art & crafts.
  • It can very effective in putting a check on migration of people to urban areas for seeking job opportunities & help farmers & artisans to develop direct contact w/customers.
  • Rural tourism includes farm based holidays, special interest nature holidays & ecotourism, fishing, educational travel, arts & heritage tourism & in some areas also entails ethnic tourism.

Rural Tourism-Showcasing India’

  • Purpose of travels & increasingly so for getting to know new things & experiencing cultures, cuisine, traditions, etc. this travel is called ‘experiential travel’.
  • Great monuments - Symbol of eternal love, Taj Mahal to great temples of south India, majestic forts of Rajasthan as well as wide & varied landscape of snowcapped mountains, golden beaches, rich forests & verdant deserts all make India an ‘Incredible’ destination.
  • India is well know for its unique cultural heritage.
  • Conservation, preservation & integrated development of areas
  • While tangible heritage is in mainstream of tourism has tremendous scope for increasing India’s tourism offering not only to world, but also to its own citizens.
  • Intangible heritage includes folklore, cuisine, customary practices, etc
  • Rural Tourism focuses on visitor actively participating in a rural lifestyle.
  • Rural tourism may also include overnight stay in which visitor also gets to know Unique lifestyle of village at much closer quarters.
  • Many cases of rural tourism include volunteerism
  • National tourism policy of India recognizes that special thrust should be imparted to rural tourism & tourism in small settlements, where sizeable assets of cultural & natural wealth exist.
  • Rural tourism is defined as ‘any form of tourism that showcases rural life, art, culture & heritage at rural locations, thereby benefiting local community economically & socially & enabling interaction b/w tourism experience.
  • Rural circuits is identified as one of 13 thematic circuits to provide unique experience to travelers visiting country & as same time develop lesser know destinations located in remote areas of country.
  • Development of Bhitiharwa, Chandrahia & Turkaulia in Bihar & Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism Project in Kerala is undertaken under rural Circuit theme.
  • Rural Tourism Scheme - launched in 2002 in partnership of UNDP. It was identified as means for generating rural employment & promoting sustainable livelihood.
  • Committees were formed to develop rural tourism initiatives.
  • Community ownership & management is central to alternative models of endogenous tourism developed across India.
  • Community members were provided training in software activities such as management of project, tour operations, waste management, accounting etc. thru capacity building programmes by reputed NGOs.
  • Shaam-e- Sarhad project in village of Hodka in Gujarat. It is a tourist camp, built, owned, & managed by Hodka community.
  • Kerala Responsible Tourism project in Kumarakom, Wyanad & other locations combine unique model of involving local community & getting visitor experience village life w/local stakeholders as story tellers.
  • Sikkim is also leveraging its rural tourism product w/its distinction of being India’s first organic state.
  • Projects in Rajasthan including in Samode & Mandawa have come up on a public private model.
  • Govardhan Eco-Village in Maharashtra which won UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation.
  • Rural Tourism Kerala Mission is an example of a successful marketing effort by State Govt. of Kerala.

Socia –Cultural Impacts of Rural tourism

  • One such trend has been to present urbanized tourists a chance to travel from concrete jungles to greener pastures.
  • Essential characteristics of this form of tourism include wide open spaces, low levels of tourism development & opportunities for visitors to directly experience agricultural & /or natural environments.
  • Prerequisites of rural tourism that lend a unique experience to tourist are that destination should be:
  1. Located in rural area
  2. Functionally rural
  3. Traditional in character, growing organically, & connected w/local families.
  • One of most important features of rural tourism economy is motivation that private sector has or investment in tourism because it is small, varied & simple.

Positive Impact in Building Rural Societies

  • Rural tourism making a valuable contribution to rural economies.
  • Its contribution can be expressed not only in financial terms, in terms of jobs
  • Increased social contact brings opportunities for revitalization of local customs, crafts & cultural identities.
  • One of major positive impacts on rural society is resurgence of cultural, traditional & historical traditions.
  • This caters to a conducive environment for conservation & sustainable management of local & indigenous culture, arts & crafts.


  • Acculturation is a process of adaptation & adjustment (Ebin et al. , 2001).

Cultural commodification

  • Cultural commodification results in transformation of value-from sacred to profane & from real to unauthentic (Shepherd, 2002).
  • Religious rituals, traditions & festivals are reduced to commodities that conform to tourist expectations.
  • This results in what is now termed as ‘reconstructed ethnicity’.

Demonstration Effect

  • One of most detrimental impacts on culture of host community is demonstration effect.
  • Demonstratration effects is occurrence of rural communities & cultures adopting western style & behavior that they have observed in visiting tourists thru interaction
  • Demonstration effect refers to process by which traditional societies, such as youth will voluntarily seek to adopt certain behaviors (& accumulate material goods) on achievement of leisured, hedonistic lifestyle demonstrated by tourists.

Cultural Erosion

  • Tourists on their visits to rural destinations seek to purchase local arts, crafts & cultural manifestations as a souvenir.
  • Local craftsmen then respond to these demands but keeping up w/tastes & requirements of tourists make more in line w/demands.
  • This leads to cultural erosion & eventually original version of artefact become just a museum piece.

Cultural Clashes

  • As a result of different cultural background, values, lifestyle, languages & levels of prosperity cultural clashes may occur eventually destroying tourist host bond.

Ethical Issues

  • Other negative social influence of tourism of rural societies can be felt in rise in prices of basic commodities which are hiked due to tourists but impacts local community.
  • Another concern due to growing tourism in rural areas is employment of children as they work for low pay
  • Ill of child labour is another issue that needs to be addressed by tourism industry.

Branding Rural Tourism

  • Many key concepts like sustainable tourism development, alternate tourism, pro-poor tourism, volunteer tourism, responsible tourism, green tourism, community based tourism, special interest tourism etc. are being coined.
  • Development of rural tourism (RT) has now gained popularity & proved to be a sword w/double edge i. e. source of employment for local community (pro-poor Tourism) & preserving its rich culture & heritage (sustainable Development).
  • Rural Tourism (RT) can be defined as touristic activities happening into rural environments to experience rural taste.
  • Rural tourism activities take place in mon-urban areas w/following characteristics’ i) low population density, ii) landscape & land iii) traditional social stricture & lifestyle.
  • EU defines rural tourism as a bundle of services that is being offered to fulfill desire of experiencing country side, its natives, heritage & culture.

Rural Tourism Products:

  • As a tourism product rural tourism in India offers green walks thru meadows & orchards, bullock cart ride, fishing, agriculture based actives, bird watching, indigenous games etc.
  • Desert areas offers camel ride, fairs & festivals along w/tented accommodation & local cuisines.
  • Himalayan belt offers tracking to remote villages, eco tourism, bird watching, adventure activities, boating, angling, volunteer tourism & Home stays.
  • Coastal area attracts tourists especially for fishing & angling where they are being carried to mid of ocean & get involved in fishery.
  • Villages located near metropolitan cities offer rural tourism in a diff. manner.
  • They is commoditized as a sojourn for peace, space & freedom.
  • Rural tourism offers to visit a place which has its authenticity along w/custom & traditions & that is conserved in its original structure.

Rural Tourism Products (RT):

  • RT concentrates on following three important aspects:
  1. Showcase all the rural background rich culture heritage & rural life.
  2. A beginning of pro poor tourism linking benefits of tourism to that local community in area of employment & social development.
  3. Tourists get involved in one to one interactions w/locals, open path for many enriching tourism experience & other community based tourism development projects.
  4. RT is essentially an activity linked w/countryside.
  5. RT has many dimensions it does not attract tourists to village life only but touches other aspects like cultural tourism, nature tourism, adventure tourism, & eco tourism as well.
  6. Heart of RT is its architecture & food.
  7. Promoting sustainable tourism development, community based tourism, volunteer tourism, responsible of tourism development.
  8. Development of RT emphasizes on 3 important aspects like must see place, do something constructive & contributor to locals in increasing their income w/purchases.
  9. Thru locations in RT sport are sparsely populated but it is conducted in natural environment.

Profiling Rural Tourists:

  • India is well know for its culture & culture lies in villages. Anyone who wants to be part of this tourism must have some information about rural background along w/its tourist resources.
  • Majority of travelers participating in rural tourism are short term visitors who prefer to visit area to get some relief from daily routine life & such travelers are motivated towards fair & festivals falling in specific period to their choice of rural destination.
  • Practical exposure is core of this rural tourism package which gives an opportunity to see live performance of many activities in genuine & preserved surroundings.


  • Key result area may be handicrafts, folk culture, organic farming, eco- parks, herbal parks, yoga & meditation centers, beside resources, one should not forget.

Ecotourism for Promoting Livelihoods & Conservation

  • Ecotourism has established itself as a livelihood activity to local community in remote destinations around India particularly in Kerala.
  • Emerging as buzzword in late 1980s, Ecotourism is a responsible travel to undisturbed natural areas that conserve natural environment & enhance well- being of local people (TIES-1990).

Ecotourism in India

  • Top eco destination in country in Kerala is narrow piece of land tantalizingly wedged b/w Arabian Sea & Western Ghats. Mighty Western Ghats runs across length of Kerala is reasons for large umber of eco destination dotting state of Kerala.
  • Other major ecotourism destinations are found in north eastern states chiefly in state of Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand.
  • Concept of ecotourism is catching up in other states as well, some of which like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh to name a few. Some ecotourism initiatives related to livelihood of local community in Indian states other than Kerala are listed below.

Leh Nutrition Project

  • It an NGO initiative joined hands w/Ladakh Ecological Group to promote sustainable livelihood to local community. They is addressing issues related to childCare, development, education, livelihood & watershed development in this difficult terrain.

Ecotourism for a Better Future Himachal Pradesh

Ecotourism Initiative in New Delhi

  • Places in city Chhawla- Kanganheri an ecotourism park near Najafgarh drain is revamped for recreational activities. Boating, camping, paintball & obstacle course are some of activities available for tourists that is dwellers.
  • Farm tourism is another activity that is catching up w/tourists largely in city outskirts & a few have come up in heart of city as well.
  • Other ecotourism activities available are exploring JNU caves that consist of a few caves hidden in lush greenery of Jawaharlal Nehru University park is another emerging bio diversity project site dedicated to giving insights into importance of conserving biodiversity.
  • This 457 acre park near Wazirabad village is one most visited public places & is emerging as a important centre for learning & understanding environment.

Ecotourism in Uttarakhand

  • w/its abundance in terms snow capped mountains, rolling Meadows, high altitude lakes, dense forests & wetland, Uttarakhand is a nature lover’s paradise. Garwal & Kuma on regions of Uttarakhand are home to exotic wildlife birds & flora.

Ecotourism Initiatives in Arunachal Pradesh Meghalaya, Sikkim & Assam

  • Kaziranga National park in Assam is such a destination famous for one horned Rhino. Sometimes called paradise unexplored, various initiatives in state aimed to bring ecotourism in its true spirit welfare of local people.

Ecotourism in Karnataka

  • Madikeri, Agumbe, Coorg & Shimoga are among most sought after ecotourism destinations in Karnataka.
  • Famous national parks like Bandipora & bird sanctuaries like Ranganathittu are just a few examples where ecotourism has become both a conservation & livelihood activity in this state.

Ecotourism in Kerala- Interwoven into Fabric of Society

  • Kerala is one of its kinds in Indian peninsular as Western Ghats supports tremendous biological values in great variety. State has established 23 protected areas (16 wild life sanctuaries & 5 national parks) which are spread over 1736.88 sq. km thus providing a natural advantage for developing ecotourism.

Eco Development Project

  • India eco development project aims to reduce dependency of local community on forest & conserve biological diversity of protected areas w/support of World Bank & Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
  • 580 EDCs is formed involving 75000 households in selected areas. India Eco Development Project is launched by Department of Forest & Wildlife in 1996 in this reserve (Project Performance Assessment Report, World Bank, 2007). )

Major objectives of this project are following

  1. Improve capacity of protected areas management to conserve biodiversity, increase collaboration of local participation
  2. Reduce negative impact of local people on biodiversity
  3. Develop more extensive support for eco development
  4. Ensure effective management of project
  5. Prepare future biodiversity projects
  • Local level institutional mechanism was developed what is know as Community Development Found (CDF) in which a partial portion of employee’s salaries are retained, deposited & will be utilized for members for members in terms of loan & to meet unforeseen demands of local community.

Benefits of Ecotourism

  • Become an alternate too for providing livelihood benefits marginalized community members in terms of employment, income generation & training.
  • Employment opportunities for local community members increase their level of Income facilitate saving pattern among them. Initiative has provided employment opportunities to marginalized & economically backward community members.
  • According to Eco Development & Tribal Welfare Wing of Department of Forest (as on 31.12. 2008), a total of 39557 community members have been employed of which 8164 people (20.64%) belong to Scheduled Caste community, employment generated for Scheduled Tribes is estimated as 6063 (15.33%) while 23330 people (64.03%) from other community have been employed in various ecotourism practices across state.
  • Earnest efforts are being made in imparting various training/skill development programmers to members of EDC & VSS across state which enables them to acquire & update their knowledge on diff. concepts of ecotourism management.
  • Kerala Institute of Tourism & Travel Studies (KITTS) in association w/Directorate of Ecotourism organised Naturalist/Interpreters course for EDC/VSS members w/aim of promoting quality eco tour guides in identified ecotourism destination.
  • Statistics released by Kerala Forest Department (2016) shows that out of 190 EDCs across forest regions in Kerala, Scheduled Tribe (ST) representation family wise is 31.14 % while for 400 VSSs in Kerala representation by Scheduled Tribes (ST) family wise is 25.76%.

Extracts form Statistics for year 2016 by Kerala Forest Department

Participatory forest management (PFM)

  • State has adopted participatory forest management (PFM) as a strategy for conservation of bio diversity & for improvement of livelihood of forest dependent people by forming partnership institutions in territorial forest divisions are called Vana Samkarshana Smithies (VSS). Those in Sanctuaries & National Parks are called Eco Development Committees (EDC).

Vanasree Eco shops

  • Vana Samrakshana Smithies were to sell processed & semi processed non timber forest products collected by Adivasi’s from forest areas. There are 37 Vanasree Eco shops in state under forest development agencies outlets as on 31.03. 2016 are shows in table 1.3.

Eco tourism destinations

  • Eco tourism in forest areas is implemented thru forest development agencies. There are 55 eco tourism destinations functioning in State.

Role of Department of Tourism & allied Organizations

  • Kerala Institute of Tourism & Travel Studies (KITTS) is HR wing under Kerala tourism catering to all training & manpower requirements in tourism sector in state.
  • Leading ecotourism destinations of state such as Munnar, Thekkady, Wayanad have captures lot of international attention thru sustainable livelihood practices.

- Published/Last Modified on: April 16, 2019


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