Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan state government has recently also introduced a new Tourism policy focussing on Rural tourism along with the usual attractions of the desert, heritage and royal architecture that represent its image.
Rajasthan Tourism is welcoming people on ‘Short Stay, Safe Stay’ that focuses on the weekend travellers from nearby states. (Rajasthan Tourism twitter)
Coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the tourism sector. With the opening of various modes of transportation, the sector has shown a glimmer of recovery from the grim situation that prevailed during the Lockdown. Now the tourism sector has started gaining traction from those who became bored while staying indoors during the Covid-19 lockdown period. However, as safe-distancing remains a norm, the route to revival is charted through rural trails that have been less preferred till now.
Interestingly, several government agencies too have taken note of the changing situation and strategised its campaign and policies accordingly. Several of these have made a conscious approach to tap the potential of new demand trend. Rajasthan Tourism is welcoming people on ‘Short Stay, Safe Stay’ that focuses on the weekend travellers from nearby states. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan state government has recently also introduced a new Tourism policy focussing on Rural tourism along with the usual attractions of the desert, heritage and royal architecture that represent its image.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa-led Karnataka government has also brought in a new policy, that mentions of COVID-19 impact and plans of both Caravan and Rural Tourism as focus themes. Uttarakhand Tourism is officially promoting ‘Workation’ to attract people with “working from home” facilities from its resorts in mountainsides. Madhya Pradesh tourism has started a campaign of “Caravan tourism.”
Similar initiatives by other state and private tourism agencies are temp to draw in tourist but keeping them away from the urban centres. The package durations are being planned accordingly as a workstation visitor is likely to stay for a longer time, while the weekend visitor might be accompanied by family and shall require more amenities than electricity and Wi-Fi. Also while ‘workation’ is set to last, rural tourism will continue to extend visitors options of experiencing the local culture, cuisine and architecture while residing away from urban crowd congestion.
“Tourists have always been attracted to the rural villages and handicraft industries, the tourism department is facilitating the process by ensuring necessary infrastructure and developing the necessary skill set for the sector. The new tourism policy visions to develop a sustainable model of tourism, that is welcoming for visitors and beneficial to the state and its people,” said Alok, Gupta, Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan.
In order to restore its pre-COVID-19 traction, the tourism sector though would need much more than the initial travel enthusiasts and government support. It will still be sometime before confidence is reinstated in public for a long-distance journey. A majority of the population in meanwhile is likely to explore their nearby surroundings more often. They would like to ensure hygienic surrounding and a reliable medical infrastructure even when venturing in a countryside location.
The concept of “social distance” is though here to stay and would shadow influence on the travellers. There would be fewer foreign visitors and the states would need to compete for the local tourist pool. They would need to develop more venues with their unique attractions, such as mountains, coasts or desert as may be the case of the respective state. The contemporary demand for remote, less habituated spaces may provide rural tourism with the much-needed support, yet, the success of the theme would differ in accordance with services and security extended to the visitors. The rural tourism sector at the time is displaying huge potential for investment and several private players are also venturing in the direction, yet in the end, it would be the places most hospitable to travellers that stand to gain the most even in post COVID scenario.