•  India with all its geographical and cultural diversity has always been an attraction for tourists. The mighty Himalayas, vast deserts, lushgreen forests and beautiful beaches intertwined with ancient temples and the majestic forts of Rajasthan make India truly an 'Incredible' destination.
  •  However, India has much more to offer than just being the 'land of tigers and temples'. Spread across its lakhs of villages lie untold venues in all their myriad colours and hues. If explored and developed as rural tourism sites, these venues could be instrumental in bringing out the much needed turnaround of rural communities and at the same time providing a visitor wholesale tourism experience. Rural tourism holds immense promise for India.
  •  When developed to its fullest potential, it could provide jobs to many young men and women who otherwise are increasingly migrating to cities. Rural tourism can revive many of the arts and crafts traditionally being practiced in the rural communities but dying a slow death.
  •  Socially, it can open rural mindset to new thoughts and ideas from the outside world. On the other hand, for the urban citizen, a few days spent amidst traditional rural lifestyle may prove to be a great stress reliever.

Major Types of Rural Tourism in India :

  •  Agricultural Tourism: To explore more about the agricultural industry and how farmers work with crops.
  •  Cultural Tourism: To allow tourists to be immersed in local culture related activities, like rituals and festivals.
  •  Nature Tourism: Responsible travel to natural areas, which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people.
  •  Adventure Tourism: Any constructive activity which tests the endurance of both a person and his equipment to its extreme limit is termed as Adventure Tourism.
  •  Food Routes: Where wanderlust meets thevariety that persists in our cuisine. This tourism is all about food and knowing more about diverse staples of different places.
  •  Community Eco-tourism: Where tourism is for a purpose. It is a rather responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improves the well-being of local people.
  •  Ethno-tourism: To expand the horizon to view different cultures. It is essentially to know more about various ethnic and cultural lifestyles and beliefs.

Increasing Interest in Rural Tourism:

  •  Rural tourism helps to garner knowledge on agriculture, farming, local governance etc.
  •  Rural tourism helps to remove myths about rural lifestyle that may exist in urban minds, like villages are unhygienic, rural life is unsafe, etc.
  •  Rural tourism will help a person to explore the vast diversity that breathe in the interiors of India.

Some Popular Rural Tourism Destinations :

  •  Kutch Adventures India: Community Tourism in Kutch; Forays into Rann of Kutch of Gujarat to visit artisans' villages as well as the salt desert.
  •  Itmennan Lodges Punjabiyat : Farming in Rural Punjab; Gives the tourist a taste of various farming activities.
  •  Ecosphere Spirit: High altitude rural tourism; Visits to Buddhist monasteries, yak safaris, treks to villages, village homestays, and cultural performances are some of the possible activities.
  •  Lachen, Sikkim: It is located at 8500 feet against the backdrop of snow-capped peaks, glaciers and rock cliffs, amidst mixed conifer and Rhododendron forests. Made accessible to tourists only a few years back, it retains an unspoilt freshness.
  •  Ballabhpur Danga, West Bengal: Ballavpur Danga, 3 KM from Shantiniketan, is a Santhal Adivasi tribal community in the pastoral beauty of rural Bengal. The Sonajhuri forest lies to the east and the Ballavpur Avayaranya forest area and bird sanctuary is to its south. Santhali art, craft and culture is closely knit into the community's life.
  •  Sunderbans Village Life: The UNESCO World Heritage Site with the largest mangrove vegetation in the world is a great attraction for tourists.
  •  Majuli in Assam: The largest river island on the Brahmaputra river in Assam is a popular tourist destination.
  •  Pochampally, Telangana: Tourists can have a look weaving of the famous slik sarees known by the same name.

There are more to the list, which still remain unexplored by the tourists.

Rural Tourism and Rural Women :

  •  Tourism is one of the most important activities in the world, employing large number of women in industrialized and developing countries.
  •  Rural Tourism presents both opportunities and challenges for women, which makes the gender equality perspective highly relevant.
  •  Work in the rural tourism sectors of destination areas is concentrated particularly in retailing accommodation & catering, selling entertainment & transportation provisions.
  •  Rural Tourism can create long term employment and provides skilled/ unskilled training and career development opportunities for women.
  •  Rural Tourism will boost women's empowerment and provides young/ agriculturist livelihood diversification.
  •  Rural Tourism has the potential of establishing medium and small enterprises started by women entrepreneurs.
  •  Rural tourism will promote local production, education, art and architecture, community self esteem and pride, heritage and nature conservation.
  •  Rural Tourism will create new infrastructure superstructure, helps to maintain local services and facilities and improves quality of life for women.
  •  Development of Rural Tourism is the passport of poverty alleviation and can double the women farmer's income without creating negative , new professional profiles in the form of local tour guides escorts, Manager of Accommodation, Transportation, Shopping Centers, Travel Circuits, Production House, Food Joints, Souvenir Shops and Services. Women can be hired  for such impacts on environment and ecology.

Way forward

  •  Rural Tourism has the potential of developing services.
  •  Rural Tourism creates jobs for women, but domestic objections, religious beliefs, already established cultural beliefs regarding gender roles, ability to travel longer distances for work and child rearing make them less accessible to women. Because of this, women supplement income by side jobs (e.g. baking, cleaning) to sustain household livelihood. Rural tourism has the potential to be a vehicle for the empowerment of women in India.
  •  It provides better opportunities for women's participation in the work force, women's entrepreneurship & women's leadership than other sectors of the economy. Women in rural  tourism are still underpaid, underutilized, under educated and under represented, but tourism offers pathways to success, if properly developed.
  •  Due to its size, its rapid growth and its extremely diverse and dynamic nature, the tourism industry has an enormous flexibility. This can enable the industry to develop key initiatives for the advancement of women.

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