“Tourism can be a driver of positive change for rural communities all around the world,” – UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili
Three Indian villages have entered the nominations for ‘Best Tourism Villages’ by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The World Tourism Organization has called for the best tourism villages, the applications for which will end on September 15, 2021.
UNWTO is recognizing villages across the world that are committed to the promotion and preservation of their cultural heritage and sustainable development through tourism.
Three Indian villages on the list
Three Indian villages, namely Ladhpura Khas, Madhya Pradesh, Kongthong village, Meghalaya, and Pochampally village, Telangana made it to the list. The villages have a unique story of their own to tell.
Ladhpura Khas, MP
Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan shared the news and praised the State’s tourism department over the nomination of Ladhpura Khas.
A moment of pride for us all as Madhya Pradesh's village Ladhpura Khas has been selected for entry to the @UNWTO 'Best Tourism Village'.
My best wishes to the whole team of @MPTourism and administration on this achievement. Keep up the good work!
— Shivraj Singh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) September 10, 2021
Madhya Pradesh is home to not just wildlife and forts, but is also known for its handicrafts, artwork, and other cultural traditions. Ladhpura Khas village is situated near the town of Orchha Tehsil of Tikamgarh district in Madhya Pradesh. One can experience the local, rural lifestyle along with visiting numerous monuments of Orchha, another tourist destination in the State.
Kongthong, also known as the whistling village, is famous for its unique tradition of assigning a tune when a child takes birth. This unique Indian village composes tune for calling a person in the place of names. Kongthong village has been adopted by Rajya Sabha MP, Prof. Rakesh Sinha.
— Conrad Sangma (@SangmaConrad) September 8, 2021
Pochampally village in Telangana is known as the Ikkat capital of India. It has a rich historic and cultural significance.
Located in the Yadadri-Bhuvanagiri district, Bhoodan Pochampally is known for its handloom work that includes the delicate hand-woven ikkat saree. Pochampally sari also received a Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2005.
The Pochampally handloom park uses 5,000 handlooms and is world-famous. The weaving cluster is listed as a tentative list of world heritage.
Moreover, the place is also associated with history. Acharya Vinoba Bhave started the Bhoodan movement from Pochampally Village asking wealthy land owners to give up land to landless people. The place has kept its tradition intact, a requirement of the UNWTO for the best tourism village label.
The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Label
A village that recognizes its cultural and natural assets, preserves and promotes rural and community-based values, products, lifestyle, and has committed to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social, and environmental, will be chosen for the Best Tourism Village label.
Further, it will also receive support from UNWTO and its Partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process. With the initiative, UNWTO is looking for the best examples of rural villages that are harnessing the power of tourism to provide opportunity and safeguard their communities, local traditions, and heritage.
Rural Tourism Project: India
To promote rural tourism in the country, the Ministry of Tourism started the rural tourism project. With this, it aims to promote domestic as well as foreign tourism and boost the socio-economic development of rural people.
Under the project, the Ministry of Tourism evaluated 107 rural tourism projects spread across all the states in India. This was done to understand the effect of rural tourism projects on the lives of the locals in the villages and to analyze if the uniqueness of the areas managed to attract tourists.
The Government of India has been taking several initiatives to boost rural tourism such as the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, the institution of national tourism award for ‘best rural/agri/plantation tourism projects’ among several others.
Boosting rural tourism
The UNWTO’s initiative will help in identifying villages that are taking innovative and transformative approaches to tourism in rural areas in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Further, it will also contribute in reducing regional inequalities and fighting against rural depopulation.
The UNWTO award will also recognize the uniqueness of each village, which can be fruitful in boosting tourism in that village.