Kurukshetra April 2024

Chapter 1- Rural Tourism

Rural Tourism

Rural tourism in India is a form of tourism that focuses on exploring and experiencing the rural lifestyle and culture.

  • Rural Tourism is an activity that takes place in non-urban areas that showcases the art, culture, heritage and native life at the rural locations.
  • Activities in which the visitors experience a wide range of products and services linked to nature and agriculture like farming, fishery, craft and various aspects of rural lifestyle.
  • Rural tourism activities focus on rural areas with low population density, landscape and land use dominated by agriculture, forestry, traditional and social structure, rural lifestyle, heritage, nature etc.
  • Rural tourism has a high potential to stimulate rural India’s economic growth and also social change, because of its complementarity with other activities like, creation and retention of jobs, creation of new business opportunities, revitalization of local art and crafts being aligned with the vision of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” and also with the mantra of “Vocal for Local”.
  • Rural tourism was first prioritized through the eleventh five-year plan (2007 - 2012) by providing infrastructural development in these areas as the new form of tourism.

Strategizing the Way Forward

  • The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India for promoting and developing rural tourism in India has formulated two strategies-
      • The National Strategy and Roadmap for the Development of Rural Tourism in India and
      • National Strategy for the Promotion of Rural Homestays in India
  • The strategies focus on the holistic approach for developing rural tourism uplifting the rural economy alongside.
  • These strategies are based on several major key strategic pillars:
  1. Benchmarking of state policies and best practices
  2. Digital technologies and platforms for rural tourism
  3. Developing clusters for rural tourism
  4. Marketing support for rural tourism
  5. Capacity building of stakeholders
  6. Governance and Institutional Framework
  • To map the potential of Indian rural tourism the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has launched the Best Tourism Village Competition and Best Rural Homestay Competition.
  • In the first edition of the Best Tourism Village Competition, a total of 795 villages across India filed applications of which 35 villages were recognized as the Best Tourism villages of India.
  • The recognized 35 villages were analyzed from multiple perspectives and the best practices and the models were drawn out from these villages which will be shared with the rest of the villages for the replication of the existing models and the development of the villages.

Positioning Indian Rural Tourism at Global Level

  • Pochampally village from Telangana state is recognised as the UNWTO Best Tourism Village in the year 2021.
  • It is a small hamlet of weavers known for the renowned Pochampally silk adorned with the Ikat design.
  • In the year 2023, Dhordo from Gujarat state was recognized as the UNWTO Best Tourism Village.

From the Last Village to the First Village

  • Government of India has initiated the Vibrant Village Program for India’s Border Villages for the holistic development of villages lying in the border areas of country.
  • Indian government has put in place several development programs and efforts to raise living standards in border communities, upgrade infrastructure, increase access to healthcare and education, and foster economic growth.
  • The basic areas of development are connectivity with all-weather roads, drinking water, 24x7 electricity- Solar and wind energy to be given focused attention, and mobile and internet connectivity

Community Reinforcement

  • To increase awareness and understanding about rural tourism, Ministry of Tourism is strategizing capacity-building initiatives amongst the different stakeholders.
  • Government is aiming to establish Capacity Building Resource Centers at the National, State, and Cluster levels.
  • These will serve as pivotal platforms for stakeholders, facilitating knowledge exchange and fostering interaction among practitioners, educational institutions, government agencies, and volunteers.
  • These Capacity Building Resource Centers at various levels will serve as repositories for tourism knowledge.


In fostering rural development, rural tourism plays a pivotal role in providing a range of benefits and avenues for development.

Chapter 2- Amenitisation of Rural India for Nature Tourism

True potential of tourism in India lies in the rural areas. The notion of rural conjures open areas, small settlements, farms, abundance of nature, and living in folk culture.

  • Rural India is custodian of nature and its rapid urbanization is rather robbing the nature from the very custodians.
  • Rural tourism opens entrepreneur-based job opportunities and therefore is the key driver to check urban migration phenomenon.
  • Nature Walks in villages is an untapped tourism potential where real rural life is showcased with touch and-feel of cattle without earthly smell being artificially suppressed. In villages, one experiences the purity of dairy that one relishes in the luxury of homes.
  • Volunteer Tourism is also an important variant of rural tourism, wherein the tourists visit rural areas and enjoy their stay at the village and they contribute by teaching children, creating art work or adding value to knowledge like better agriculture.
  • Rural Tourism is the perfect solution to the low-carbon development strategy with multiple secondary benefits to other strategic pathways wherein pollution, emission in urban transport, energy demand in cities, carbon dioxide removal etc are being specifically addressed.
  • Rural Tourism creates a much-needed sustainable carbon dioxide sink harnessing green resources.


The process of creating an enabling environment is referred to as ‘Amenitisation’. It is a multistakeholder engagement rather than merely a policy intervention. The ‘Amenitisation’, both tangible and information access could be categorised in three groups-

  1. Affirmatory Amenities- These are very essential amenities and without which idea would fail to create interest in Rural Tourism. These include-
  • Access to healthcare
  • Sanitation and waste management
  • Access to safe potable water
  • Green power
  • Street lighting
  • Smart security solutions
  1. Supportive Amenities- These are necessary for creating tourist-friendly environment and it would include:
  • Digital services
  • Travel connectivity
  • Explicitation of restrictive practices- Making tourists aware of sensitivities of local communities and enhancing compatibility with tourists, bringing restrictive practices to the fore is a significant catalyst.
  • Access to conveniences- such as confectionery, grocery, packaged food, bakery, and bank ATMs etc.
  1. Value Adding Amenities- It would create a memorable ‘impact and an enhanced experience of the folk culture, the unique selling proposition (USP) of Rural Tourism. These would include:
  • Digital skill set: interface between the tourist and the village host is through digital technologies
  • Hospitality skill set: Host communities need to acquire hospitality skill sets for professional treatment of the guests.
  • ‘Village Kutir Udyam’: Local art, craft, cuisine, pickles, wellbeing engagements, facilitation of outdoor activity such as trekking, are homebased value-added enterprises that give enhanced memorable experience to a tourist.
  • Local community connect: Targeting the volunteer tourists, connecting with organized local community groups is significantly motivating.

What steps have been taken to promote Tourism in India?

  1. Swadesh Darshan Scheme: It was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in 2014-15. It aims to develop theme-based tourist circuits on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner. Under the scheme, 15 themes have been identified.
  2. PRASHAD Scheme: The National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15. It is a Central Sector Scheme launched with the objective of integrated development of identified pilgrimage and heritage destinations.
  3. Adopt a Heritage Scheme: It was launched in September 2017 on World Tourism Day. It aims to ensure quality & inclusive provision of amenities and facilities across heritage, natural, & tourist sites through active participation of private and public sector organizations. These organizations would be known as ‘Monument Mitras‘ for their collaboration initiative. It is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India.


Rural Tourism has a transformational potential for the villages. It is now for the other stakeholders to synergize their efforts and contribute to sustainable development of villages through Rural Tourism.

Chapter 3- Rural Fairs and Festivals

  • According to UNWTO World Tourism Barometer 2024 report, international tourism recovered 88% of pre-pandemic levels. It is expected to fully recover by the end of 2024.
  • India tourism statistics 2023 mentions that bulk tourism activity in India came from domestic tourism with 1731.01 million domestic tourist visits in 2022, foreign tourist visits stood at 8.59 million.
  • Tourism sector is one of the big sources of foreign exchange earnings and instrumental in economic development and employment generation.

5 A’s essential for a tourist destination to develop and sustain

  1. Attractions- features that pull a tourist to a destination
  2. Accessibility- modes of transport
  3. Accommodation- place to stay
  4. Amenities- facilities at the destination
  5. Activities- various pursuits of a tourist.

Importance of Fairs and Festivals

In India, traditional fairs and festivals are connected with harvests, changing seasons, religious beliefs, local customs, etc. Their importance can be understood from the following perspectives-

  1. Economic importance: They help creating linkage between tourism businesses and poor people that contribute to poverty reduction and poor people are able to participate more effectively in product development.
  2. Socio-cultural importance: Traditional Indian festivals have socio-religious context and they offer an opportunity to encourage social bonding across religions, which has come under stress due to effects of globalization and westernization.
  3. MICE and Roots tourism through festival: MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions/Events) cover these four core market areas. It includes all forms of tourism that are related to work/profession/business.
  4. Adventure and rural tourism through festival- Adventure has been identified as a niche product for promotion and development to promote tourism round the year and overcome ‘seasonality’. Adventure tourism is a type of niche tourism where travel involves some degree of risk (real or perceived) and may require special skills, and physical effort.
  5. Reinvigorating heritage through festivals: Heritage tourism, also called historical tourism focuses on cultural heritage. It fulfils travelers’ interest in historical attractions such as monuments and sites of important past events, as well as in traditions.
  • Pinjore heritage festival-  is organized to exhibit culture and tradition of Haryana.
  • Kochi-Muziris Biennale (organised at Kochi) is an art exhibition and festival that is largest of its kind in South Asia.
  • Hornbill Festival- is celebrated in Nagaland to preserve, protect and revive uniqueness and richness of Naga Heritage.
  1. Facilitating rural produce through festivals: Farm produce and associated activities are attractions of rural tourism.
  • U.P. produces a large variety of mangoes. Awadh mango growers’ association conceptualized and organised first UP Mango Festival in 2013.
  • Maharashtra is capitalizing on vineyard tourism.  Wine tourism is identified as a growing area of special interest tourism throughout world.
  1. Floriculture and tourism through festival: Tulip festival of Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden in Srinagar (organized during the onset of spring season) is an annual celebration that showcase the range of flowers in the garden as a part of tourism efforts.
  2. Sustaining Indian arts and ‘authenticity’ through festivals: Famous author, MacCannell said that contemporary society is dominated by feelings of alienation, superficiality and disenchantment, and as a consequence many people go travelling and sightseeing in order to find some authentic experiences.
  • Fairs and festivals are apt means thorough which tourist can have the element of authenticity.
  • Authentic dance form like Kathakali features as chief attraction in traditional festival Onam, emphasis on authentic Bhangra during Lohri is also well known.
  1. Wellness and sports tourism through festivals: They aims at enhancing one’s personal well-being. International Yoga Festival (IYF), held every year, was started as a small festival in 1999, which is now a sought-after international tourist attraction. Physical fitness through sports as a medium is a popular means for attaining well-being.


Festivals improve the lives of communities by bringing prosperity to the economy; they contribute to overall well-being and social harmony. Fairs and festivals are tourism products that create opportunities for tourists to spend time together, connect with an area, and experience the diversity of cultures. If managed well, they create a positive image of the place by attracting visitors, thereby aiding in destination promotion.

Chapter 4- Different Hues of Rural Tourism

Tribal Tourism

  1. Majuli Isand, Assam
  • Majuli is a scenic, lush green, and pollution-free river island on the Brahmaputra River.
  • It is the world’s largest river island, drawing visitors from all over the world.
  • It is mostly populated by Tribals.
  • It is also known as Assam’s cultural capital.
  • Here, Sattriya culture has played an important role in bringing together numerous ethnic groups in the region since the 15th century via the spread of Neo-Vaishnavism and its cultural traditions.
  1. Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh
  • It depicts the old customs and rich cultural history.
  • It is home to spectacular beaches, charming temples, and fascinating hill stations.

Agricultural Tourism

  1. Farm of Happiness, Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra
  • It is 20-acre organic farm stay, hidden away in a secluded agricultural community that has largely escaped modernisation, visitors have plenty to be joyful about.
  • Visitors are encouraged to actively involved in the farming process.
  1. Konyak Tea Retreat, Mon District, Nagaland
  • The upscale farmhouse is situated in the centre of a rural, 250-hectare tea estate that is privately owned.
  • An organic vegetable garden and an orange tree orchard are located on the farm.
  • During harvest season, visitors can pick and consume (mid-November to December). Other activities include learning how to traditionally smoke meat, doing nature treks, helping villagers in their rice fields, milking cows and goats, and more.

Eco Tourism

  1. Kumarakom, Kerala
  • The richly multifaceted craft of coconut frond weaving is one that furnishes an eco-directive effect.
  • It offers the opportunity to watch the making of coir and the way its magical textures and natural properties are given life with the talent of master craftsmen.
  1. Malarickal, Kottayam
  • It’s stretches of backwaters and intrinsic natural beauty are attracting tourists.
  • Malarickal or Malarikkal is a jewel that people in Kerala are only slowly awakening to themselves.
  1. Madla, Madhya Pradesh
  • Madla is a unique town in India that has all three natural geographic characteristics within one kilometre.
  • The town is traversed by the Karnawati (Ken), the cleanest river in all of Asia.
  • Pandava Falls and Caves, which are close to the Panna National Park and Khajuraho-the UNESCO site-are only 10 kilometers from Madla.
  • Folk music and dancing, regional celebrations, and Bundelkhand cuisine are a few examples of the village’s intangible legacy.

Art and Culture Tourism

  1. Ajrakhpur
    • It is an art and craft town located in the desert city of Bhuj of State of Gujrath.
    • The region is well-known for its Ajrakh print, which is block printing on cloth.
    • Ajrakh printing dating back to the Muslim Khatri community’s forebears.
    • Printing is entirely handcrafted without the use of any machinery or automation, drawing its inspiration from the hues found in nature.
  1. Chanderi
  • Chanderi is an 11th century old town in Madhya Pradesh’s northern region.
  • It is well-known for its charming forts, rolling hills, and exquisite hand-woven Chanderi sarees.
  • There are several different weaves available here, ranging from pure Chanderi silk to Chanderi cotton-silk, and each weave is exceptional.

UPSC Mains Practice Questions-(Around 250 words)

Q.1 Discuss the potential of rural tourism in India. What measures and precautions should be taken to promote rural tourism?

Q.2 How can the mountain ecosystem be restored from the negative impact of development initiatives and tourism? (2019)

Q.3 The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are reaching the limits of their ecological carrying capacity due to tourism. Critically evaluate. (2015)