The government of India has made rural tourism a priority in a way that can and should be copied by governments everywhere, large and small. If you are looking for a good, universally applicable definition of “rural tourism” read this Wall Street Journal article about India’s rural tourism project.
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) recently presented its Gold Award in the Heritage category to the Indian Ministry of Tourism for the Shaam-e-Sarhad resort of the rural tourism project at Hodka village in the Kachchh district of Gujarat.
When you visit their website, you’ll notice, there are no golf courses, or fancy walled off resorts that separate visitors from the local population. India understands that rural tourism is about having direct contact with locals and opportunity to experience local culture.
India’s Rural Tourism Project is about making local culture more accessible. At the Shaam-e-Sarhad Resort, visitors will experience comfort, Hodka Village style. Tours are designed to bring locals and visitors together, not keep their separated.
Rural tourism in India isn’t about giving visitors the same old resort experience in a rural setting. It is about giving them an opportunity to learn more about a local culture, through direct experience of it.
Several years ago I met and talked about rural tourism with a representative of PATA. Much to his surprise and mine, we came to realize that rural tourism everywhere was about preservation of valuable indigenous culture.
Whether you live in a village in India, or Scotland, or Kansas US, there are culture and traditions of great value to your country and interest to visitors.
India teaches us to value and enhance what is already there. A multimillion dollar attraction in the middle of a rural community may create a few more service industry jobs. A more modest development that strengthens local culture can support and enhance the local economy, as we see in Hodhi, India .
So, take the time to rediscover what you already have. The Kansas Sampler Foundation’s 8 Rural Culture Elements can help.
If you’re looking at some kind of tourism development for your town, make certain that it supports what you already have.
Remember that tourism these days is more and more about authentic experience, something most of you are doing effectively right now. Just get busy and market it!
Here’s several more posts that might interest you: