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India inviting tourists to villages

The ministry of tourism, in cooperation with the UNDP, will promote 31 rural locations.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2005 16:59 IST

It's now the turn of Indian villages to find a place in the country's tourism map - the government aims to promote the industry by taking it to the rural areas.

The ministry of tourism, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will promote 31 rural locations under the Endogenous Tourism Project/Rural Tourism Scheme.

The initiative aims to enable local communities to introduce visitors to their art and craft, cultural and natural heritage.

"Mahatma Gandhi once said that India lives in her villages. Now we invite the world to our villages. We want people to see how we live," said Renuka Chowdhury, the minister of state for tourism told a World Tourism Day event here on Tuesday.

"We have brought in the concept of rural tourism with the ideals of ancient Indian tradition of 'gurukul'. Visitors will be encouraged to go to villages and learn different traditional arts including dance, music, pottery and painting from the masters. After the end of their stay, they will also be awarded certificates," said the minister.

To promote the selected locations, the ministry has also launched a new website (http://www.exploreruralindia.org) with information about the places, their artistic and cultural specialities and other attractions.

On the occasion, Chowdhury announced several promotional measures to generate interest about India, including an arrangement with the state-run Air India to paint the 'Incredible India' logo on its entire fleet of aircraft.

The ministry of tourism has also struck an understanding with Microsoft Corporation to make available pictures of Indian tourists attractions on their site. Indian tourism themes with music will now be available with the Microsoft Windows package for downloading.

The Indian tourism industry earned record revenues of Rs.55 billion ($1.2 billion) last year, with 3.3 million tourists visiting the country. While there was a 27 percent growth in the tourist inflow, the revenue growth was 36 percent.

The government is now targeting to attract five million tourists from overseas by the next year. The number of tourists coming to India till August this year has recorded a 15.6 per cent increase, as compared to the same period last year.

First Published: Sep 28, 2005 16:59 IST