Shimla, May 25: In a bid to ensure that the benefits of tourism development accrue to the local communities, the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation will assist the villagers in 19 Panchayats in seven districts of the state to promote rural tourism by way of showcasing their rich culture, traditions, cuisine and handicrafts and also market them.
The initiative, which will help generate employment opportunities, both direct and indirect, will be undertaken as part of the community development programme under the Rs 628-crore Asian Development Bank (ADB) project. The main purpose is to help the local villagers to reap the benefits of tourism infrastructure being created under the ADB project in the seven districts of Shimla, Kangra, Chamba, Kullu, Mandi, Solan and Bilaspur.
The first programme under this scheme was held at Naldehra on Wednesday. The workshop was inaugurated by Dharmila Harnot, chairman, Zila Parishad, Shimla. The local villagers will be imparted training to set up their home stay units after they are given lessons in home keeping, cooking, adventure training, cultural guide training, handicraft production, solid waste management and tourist guide activities.
“The concept of rural tourism is catching on and it is only after we train our people with professional skills that they can gain from tourism while sitting in their homes in villages,” said VC Pharka, Chief Secretary, who also holds the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation.
Another important aspect of the community development project will the creation of a marketing chain which will help the locals to sell their handicrafts, local cuisine not in Shimla but at places like the Dilli Haat and other handicrafts fairs held in India and abroad, added Pharka.
The Department of Tourism has tried to promote rural tourism by holding apple festival, Apple Blossom Festival and other such initiatives which offer a lifetime experience to tourists to stay at the farm, relish the local cuisine made from farm fresh fruits and vegetable, enjoy the local folk dance and music and learn the handicrafts from the local artisans.
It is being hoped that the financial assistance being given by the ADB for community development will give fillip to rural tourism. As of now places like Shimla, Manali, Dharamsala, Dalhousie, Chamba are more popular but being over-saturated and congested, people are looking for quieter places which provides them the right escape from the maddening city life. However, these remote rural places can be developed only if the locals are trained to offer the visitors professional services in their own houses.
Source Tribune India