We have all come a long way. Technology has taken a lead over our actions. Though it has made our life much simpler than before, we have begun to live more in the virtual world and got ourselves away from the real world.
There can be nothing better than traveling, to bridge both the world. Travel is no longer an escape from the normal routine, in fact, it is a change in lifestyle to rejuvenate and at best connect to oneself. The true connect one finds in a place, which has true appeal in its natural essence.
Rural tourism is the one such opportunity. It not only benefits the eco-system but also brings people closer to nature, traditions, and rural life where they experience a non-polluted village environment along with the lifestyle of simple village folk.
It’s a time to revive Rural tourism in a vast country like India where 70% of the population lives in rural India. The rural tourism doesn’t have an appeal only for the International traveler but also attract domestic traveler who wants to connect to their roots or for Generation Z who never experienced the village environment and activities. Rural tourism holds significant scope which showcases rural life, art, culture, heritage at a rural location.
It is a choice of an evolved traveler who knows the purpose of travel. As a specialist in offering rural tourism programs, one needs to understand the psyche and motivation which drive tourists for such experiences. This can be an escape from the crowded city life, interest for rural locations for relaxation or rejuvenation, curiosity to experience village life or to connect to one’s roots, and many more. It is more of an experience than only a vacation. It adds flavor far beyond the place where one stay during the holiday. Rural tourism product designing involves the creation in a form of storytelling for one to immerse in the offerings.
Each village or rural site has to be considered as a product in itself and to be researched on the broader points like connectivity and accessibility, travel time, duration of the trip, the attractions the village has to offer, folk dance, cultural activities, choice of the cuisine offered, and shopping stores promoted by locals. It is important to shortlist the selected accommodation approved by Govt or local tourism body or NGO which fulfills the predefined criteria while taking care of basic comfort, health, hygiene, and security. It is also important to envisage the handling capacity of a, particularly rural location.
Rural tourism is an opportunity to develop sustainable tourism. The marketing strategy for rural tourism can be linked to eco-tourism and responsible tourism as it has the ability to effectively communicate on ecological conservation and educate travellers on rural environments. We need to understand both the tangible and intangible product offering. The locals or villagers become a tangible core product while experiences and village surrounding gives the intangible flavour.
The strong marketing campaign bringing the richness of surroundings with the flora and fauna of the rural site will be very instrumental in creating awareness. This awareness than can be capitalized by creating interest with a campaign with regard to connectivity and accessibility along with the experiences the rural site has to offer. Next, the marketing approach needs to spark a desire to visit the site, supported by health, safety, and security guidelines.
India is a land of diversity, home to people with different cultures and traditions. To bring the focused approach to the segment it will be good to have microsites of rural locations to communicate the experiences and accessibility they offer along with the list of preferred tour operators promoting particular villages in sync with the government, the private sector, and NGO’s along with a well-structured print and a digital marketing plan.
Rural tourism is a segment that offers traditional brilliance, it calls for greater synergy among local people. Participation of the local community is an important part of rural tourism which has a direct impact on increasing income and create opportunities for Micro-entrepreneurship which further generates employment within the village or rural site and avoids migration of locals to the cities for a job. It creates an opportunity for Entrepreneurship development by identifying each and individual component of the tourism product and create a skillset around them. It’s about bringing the community together and forming a small group who are similar in values but differ in their expertise. The local younger generation can be encouraged and trained and educated with an idea to create, preserve, and enhance the stake of the local community instead of an individual.
The area which can be looked into entrepreneurship development: -Homestays, local art, and crafts, farm products, performing arts (folk dance and music), organizing local festivals, English/ Foreign language speaking tour guides, setting up restaurants offering local cuisines, setting up tourism information kiosk & souvenir shops around attractions. These will bring the professional approach to build up the rural tourism segment and the associations of these entrepreneurs can liaison with local government and tourism bodies to promote their villages or rural site within and outside India.
With opportunities, we still cannot eyewash from the challenges which come with rural tourism like lack of essential skill set, internet connectivity, soft skill, and communication. It is the right time to think and work upon these challenges so, in better days ahead, rural tourism can be offered in a structured approach.
About Puneet Saxena:
Puneet is the founder of Navyush Experiences Pvt Ltd. Having lead, several strategic alliance and partnerships with key source market tour operators, travel agents for new market development and profit center operations, he is a professional with an entrepreneurial mindset with experience in successfully starting, building, growing and improving performances of businesses in the field of travel and tourism.