Rural Tourism – Myths and Reality

In the last one year that we have been working in Rural Tourism, we have come across many questions from our travelers that makes me understand the need to answer them on a public forum. Rural Tourism is still a new concept in India, and, as expected there are many questions around it. Here are answers to come common questions or rather myths –

1. Rural tourism is unsafe: If someone was destined to get mugged, it can happen in a flashy metropolitan as well. Over the last two years since I have been traveling to villages, I have found them safer than the cities. I have grown up in Delhi and can clearly see the difference in safety, hospitality, warmth and a sense of community in a city and in a village. We have had solo female travelers, couples, children and families who have felt safer in villages.

It also depends on the organization you are traveling with and the amount of ground work they have done with locals before sending you. Usually, it takes months if not years to train locals in tourism and its aspects.

Tip: Check the authenticity and professionalism of the organization you are traveling with. Look for their sustainability and training practices.

rural_travel_india_intercultural_interaction
Intercultural interaction between students from Dublin and local community in Kumaon

jungle-walks-rural-travelIndians also prefer it in large numbers and find it safe

2. Rural tourism = Discomfort: Rural does not always mean a dilapidated shack where you will have to sleep on the floor under the light of an oil lamp. In the last point I spoke about training. A responsible organization will always train locals on sanitation. Emphasis will be given on clean beds and washrooms. Rural tourism is a great way to give sustainable living to locals. And cleanliness is one of the basic requirements that any responsible Rural Travel company will take into account.

Tip: Check the facilities and photographs and ask your questions freely

stunning-beauty-of-simplicity
Intercultural interaction between students from Dublin and local community in Kumaon

the-deluxe-cottage
I find such places more peaceful and clean to stay at rather than a hotel

3. Rural tourism costs nothing, so why charge for it: What I mentioned in last point about sustaining local communities brings me to the next point on charging. Most of the Rural population is currently being trained under western education system on learning computers and English and moving to cities. As a result cities are over burdened and villages are getting empty. Rural tourism is not different from any other form of tourism where you pay. The only difference is, your money goes directly to a local family and immediate community. A responsible community based tourism initiative will always give entrepreneurial opportunities to locals so that they do not have to migrate to cities. As a result, many art forms, languages, music, dances, and cultures are preserved. Rural tourism has the power to make these aspects an asset rather than a burden.

4. World is moving towards urbanization, why villages?: We are not against urbanization. It is just that we see the impacts of it in the form of cut-throat competition which leads to increasing crime, struggle for limited resources, degrading levels of cleanliness, impacts on our health and stress levels and a constant question in everyone’s mind as to who they really are. After having lost connection to our roots, we are neither completely western nor Indian. Moreover, we are loosing warmth and sensitivity towards our people, trust, love and responsibility towards our environment. Mahatma Gandhi once said – “The future of India lies in its villages”. This does not mean we remain backward, uneducated or poor. Everyone has the right to live a beautiful life. But only till the time that lifestyle does not begin to take a toll on those very humans it was meant for.

Rural Tourism is a tool to create a balance between urbanization and Rural lifestyle. This is very important for us to sustain.

maati-sangathan
Intercultural interaction between students from Dublin and local community in Kumaon

5. The food and water will be below standard and unhygienic: Really? These days we are putting water purifiers in our homes and depending on mineral water because our rivers are too dirty to supply clean drinking water. Fruits and vegetables supplied in market are rubbed with oil to make them shine and injected with artificial colors to make them look beautiful. Our children are getting dependent of medications at an early age. Cancer has become as common as headache. The air we breathe in cities is so poisonous that many species of birds that once thrived have now either migrated or become extinct. Our children fall ill if they are left to play on a street. With each passing day, they are getting dependent on air-conditioned homes only.

On the other hand, I have seen 60 year old women climb a mountain daily and still manage to stay fit without any medicine. They do not need cosmetics to look beautiful or to prevent their skin from sagging. I don’t suggest that we should leave our homes and all migrate to villages. The point is, we are living in a myth. I have had some of the best organic food in villages cooked in homemade spices and butter. I have drank water from rivers and waterfalls and have never fallen ill. And I have played in mud and it only increased my immunity.

Rural Tourism is a way to bridge this gap. We do not want you to leave cities. We want you to become sensitive towards environment, our impacts on it and on how we can become responsible.

limboo-food
Intercultural interaction between students from Dublin and local community in Kumaon

6. What is the difference between you and a Travel Agent: No difference except that – we give our heart and soul in making this country a better place to live using travel as a medium. We design training for villagers to enable them to earn a living from their own skill. For us, building relationships is more important than just getting a cheque from a customer. And that most of us left our plush corporate jobs to do this work.

Author: GAURAV BATNAGAR  

Reblogged from: THE FOLK TALES

 

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Author: MyMotorWheels

I am a mechanical engineer and an automobile enthusiast.

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