Kolkata, Nov 1 (UNI) The Union Tourism Ministry has identified 15 rural locations across the country for promotion of village tourism, economic activities and development of the country's villages.
The identification was made under the Rural Tourism Scheme to popularise travelling in villages with rural people as stakeholders, a Tourism Ministry document said.
The 15 locations were chosen under the first step of implementation, as the local community was being trained to manage the tourism sites, all by its own for sustainability.
The concept of hygiene with food, clean water and toilets was being promoted among the host community. Capacity building for sensitisation of community in preparing and serving traditional cuisine and interacting with visitors was another aspect of the scheme that included improvement in cleanliness and hygiene in the village and environmental awareness, the document said.
Guide training among local youths for helping tourists in understanding and appreciating the unique aspects of villages would also be ensured, it added.
The first 15 sites, nearing readiness for marketing, were Ballavpur Danga Birbhum-Bengal, Pochampalli-Andhra Pradesh, Sualkuchi-Assam, Nalanda-Bihar, Hodka-Gujarat, Jyotisar-Haryana, Naggar-Himachal Pradesh, Banavasi-Karnataka, Aranmula and Kumbalangi-Kerala, Chougan-Madhya Pradesh, Pranpur-Madhya Pradesh, Samode-Rajasthan, Lachen-Sikkim and Karaikudi-Tamil Nadu.
There has been 8-10 per cent increase in the arrival of tourists to the village sites after the launch of Rural Tourism Scheme.
The Tourism Ministry was considering work-plans from all states and Union Territories for funding hardware activities with a budget of upto Rs 50 lakh and software activities upto Rs 20 lakh per site in potential rural tourism locations.
Efforts were underway for documentation of the chosen sites through brochures, cards and upgradation of websites (www.exploreruralindia.org), including depiction of site attractions.
The Tourism Ministry had supported the rural tourism festival at Delhi Haat in 2006 and would be doing the same from November three to five and November 14-27 this year.
The Rural tourism project at the Raghurajpur village in Puri, Orissa, was cited an example where tourists' arrival and the income from the crafts sale had gone up.
Similarly, Pochampalli of Nalgonda district in Andhra Pradesh was the launch pad for Acharya Vinoba Bhave's 'Bhudan' movement. His ashram is always open to visitors as indeed is the local community.
Visitors, seeking live experience of crafts, combined with local culture and cuisine, could find the desired product through the craft and visitor centre, amphitheatre and cafeteria.
The 10th Five Year Plan identified tourism as one of the major sources of generating sustainable livelihood and employment in the country.
Rural Tourism could showcase arts and crafts in a traditional setting and provide a platform for tourists to experience the rural ambience.