Rural tourism development in J&K
Dr. Banarsi Lal
One of the main attractions of rural holidays is the personal interaction with local residents, so hosts and guests are able to share ideas and knowledge and consequently tourism can fulfill its role as the ‘Industry of Peace’, as a tool of mutual understanding.
Nevertheless, if rural tourism development is analysed on a deeper level, certain doubts arise concerning intrinsic sustainability. The most significant issue to be investigated is the economic profitability of rural tourists’ services, since the demand is often seasonal, the occupancy rates are low and the investment required for creating or improving facilities for tourists is often high. In most rural tourists’ destinations, it is quite unlikely that tourism can be viable as a sole source of income. Rural tourism can usually be one of the important income-generating alternatives in the state, so its role in sustainable development is highly influenced by the performances of other economic sectors especially agriculture.
Jammu and Kashmir occupies the topmost position in the map of India. The physical locations, the compatible seasonal division, the richness of flora and luscious fruits and tempting vegetables attract every body’s imagination in the state. The state is blessed with beautiful mountains and snow capped peaks which makes the tourists pleasant. Excellent scenic, cultural, religious and cultural places are within short distances ranging from a few kilometers to 40 kilometers. Even drive, walk or horse ride to these places is enchanting. Snowy peaks, frozen lakes, ski slopes, pine forests, fresh water streams are the major tourists’ attractions of the state.
Tourism growth potential can be harnessed as a strategy for rural development. The development of a strong platform around the concept of rural tourism is definitely useful for a country like India, where almost 70per cent of the population resides in its 7 million villages. Across the world the trends of industrialisation and development have had an urban centric approach. Alongside, the stresses of urban lifestyles have led to a ‘counter-urbanisation’ syndrome. This has led to growing interest in the rural areas. Rural Tourism is one of the few activities which can provide a solution to many urban problems. Besides, there are other factors which are shifting the trend towards rural tourism like increasing levels of awareness, growing interest in heritage and culture and improved accessibility and environmental consciousness. In the developed countries, this has resulted in a new style of tourism of visiting village settings to experience and live a relaxed and healthy lifestyle. This concept has taken the shape of a formal kind of rural tourism. So we need to plan the same concept in our country in general and Jand K as particular.
Rural tourism is a challenging service among the landscapes and cultural heritage of rural communities. Tourism has many potential benefits for rural areas. This activity generates local incomes, employment and growth of welfare and is a valuable contributor to rural economy. Rural tourism can serve as an important source of tax revenues for local jurisdictions and promotes the usage and sale of local food products. Rural tourism prevents viable traditional occupations from being displaced and offers rural residents the business opportunities and creates new employment opportunities. Rural tourism preserves tradition and heritage of rural areas. It promotes the environment improvements within the settlements and respects the natural diversity.
Rural tourism can create lot of employment in rural areas. Rural tourism can also help in increasing the agricultural productivity as it draws manpower from hidden employment or seasonal underemployment. It is different from other sectors of industry. The rural tourism industry can earn a huge amount of money. Rural tourism is thus a source of aid from within the state, country and out of country. Rural tourism is directly helpful in correcting state’s economic position and can divert the rural people towards progress. Through rural tourism government can gain more economic profits from taxes on things tourists use and buy. Government should take proper measures for creating framework for the promotion of rural tourism. There is need to increase the rural tourism at a fast rate and it should be diversified. Increased tourists traffic in the state calls for new marketing and pricing policies. There is need of proper planning and effective legislation for resource conservation and balanced developmental activities for the rural tourism. The technical resources are also required for successful promotion of rural tourism. Rural tourism can be fostered if it is an integral part of a balanced economic and social development programme. It is not only the government but the private sector should also play an equal responsible role for the development of rural tourism. Rural tourism can make our rural areas more attractive and prosperous.