While India has always been known for its culturally rich heritage, Rajasthan has unarguably been a treasure trove of traditional art and craft forms in the country. The vibrant culture, the unparalleled welcoming vibe of the state, and the diverse art forms have put the desert state on the world map as one of the favourite tourist destinations.
In the last three years, the tourism industry has grown multifold, accounting to a momentous 21 percent rise with over 50 million tourists visiting the state in a year. Rajasthan is also home to not one but three UNESCO World Heritage sites in India, with the walled city of Jaipur earning the spot in the list too.
In fact, the leading world organization, UNESCO, has recognized Rajasthan as ‘the number one asset’ when it comes to Intangible Cultural Heritage in India and has signed a partnership agreement aimed at “at promoting long-standing Rajasthani traditions and adding new cultural destinations for tourists to visit”.
The role of the government, independent institutions, and of course, the undying and unwavering spirit of the Rajasthani craftsmen to preserve and promote their local arts and crafts have been instrumental in garnering such a massive international appreciation and validation, putting the state on the world’s forefront as the symbol of heritage art and culture. And, at the heart of this fervour encouragement and promotion, lies the spurt in the cultural experiences that the traveller of today is seeking, ultimately helping in reviving the slowly-diminishing or lost arts of Rajasthan.
The drastic shift from ‘tourism’ to ‘travel.’
This megatrend of engaging in more soul-searching and fulfilling travel experiences can be credited to the Millenials, Gen-Z and, also social media.
Facebook and Instagram especially have kind of rekindled the love for art and how it is created (Behind-the-scenes), bringing to light the hard work, dedication, and the lives of the artisans involved with craft making. This along with the ‘wanderlust’ temptations of today’s travel-friendly youth have greatly transformed the way people explore new places.
Moving beyond the ‘hot spot sightseeing,’ ‘shopping-spree agendas,’ and other touristy things, people now are looking to connect with the place, explore it in a way that they can carry a part of with them when they return. This has led them to see and navigate the authentic, art-rich parts of the state.
For instance, now, people are not just visiting Jaipur, Udaipur, or Jaisalmer, they also take day tours and love to have a night stay in nearby villages and towns like Barmer, Churu, etc., just to understand their culture better and indulge in some kind of art experiences.
Laudable Government initiatives to promote experiential tourism
With pathbreaking and world-viral tourism marketing campaigns like ‘ Jaane Kya Dikh Jaye ’ and the like, Rajasthan Government and the tourism department has been taking various measures to safeguard and promote the cultural heritage of the state through tourism.
While the road to achieving exponential and desired growth is long and requires not just effective but proactive approach towards tourism marketing, the department’s role cannot be undermined when it comes to rekindling the interest for local crafts and arts amongst the world travellers, art enthusiasts, and sustainability-focused global businesses.
From organizing world-class trade shows, fairs, and events to promote the state’s unique artforms across the globe, to building a robust infrastructure and great connectivity within the state, encompassing towns, districts, villages, are their remarkable contributions towards increasing the footfall of travellers seeking cultural experiences beyond the peril luxuries of the city life.
They have truly given a solid foundation to promote more meaningful, culturally-enriched travel experiences to the people.
Initiation of unique & culturally-appealing event products for tourism
In the past decade, the number of international-level events taking place in Rajasthan has considerably grown. The most interesting thing to note here is that most of the events have been culture-centric, promoting the arts and diverse artisan communities of Rajasthan.
Be it the famous and the world’s largest free literary festival JLF, the Rajasthan International Folk Festival in Jodhpur, the famed Pushkar Mela, or the Desert festival in Jaisalmer, amongst many others, all of these have significantly added to the cultural prestige and preservation of the near-to-extinct crafts of Rajasthan by roping in more travellers looking for experiential experiences.
The growing role of the private sector in promoting native artforms through distinctive ideas
Many independent organizations, artist-driven platforms, and other institutions have been continuously coming up with innovative products, ideas, and services to promote the culture and art forms of Rajasthan on the global platform.
With the aim of helping the artisan communities of Rajasthan to sustain and thrive, the private sector has been working diligently to create better opportunities and revenue streams for them through creative solutions.
The Key Debate: Is the trend just a fad or will it really stand the test of time and be the future face of travel?
While it is clear that the new era of cultural and experiential travel has certainly brought in better times for the crafts and the craftsmen, will it sustain or is it just a short-lived trend?
In my opinion, if driven with the same level of energies, synergies, and passion by all the sectors and communities of the state, it will become a guidebook for other states and the world to look upon when rebuilding their tourism on the foundation of cultural heritage and uniqueness of their native arts. It will thrive further, empowering the artisan communities, and transforming their lives for the better, allowing them to enjoy the much-deserved appreciation and meaningful monetary rewards.
However, if any one sector also fails to give in their best or goes stagnant with their approach to preserve and promote the rich culture of Rajasthan, it may lead to unfortunate results for what could have been a journey worth inscribing in the history.
Here, the role of the Government will remain far more crucial and in coming up with innovative ideas, better policymaking, and also in supporting the private sector and the artisan communities to drive the change through unique models.
What do you think? Do share your opinion in the comments below.