The Rural Tourism Council of WICCI (Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry), in line with its mission to promote the sector through skill development initiatives, business networking, and proposals to relevant authorities, has shared its recommendations with Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, seeking her kind attention in the upcoming budget. The council based its suggestions on the Draft National Strategy & Roadmap for Development of Rural Tourism in India dated June 12, 2021, issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
The council has proposed, among other points, that lending for Rural Tourism should be included as a separate category in Priority Sector Lending (PSL) norms for banks to ensure the flow of funds to the sector. They have suggested that a pool of corporates with varied expertise should be created, to engage in developing villages either as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities or through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
Chanchal Sonia Bhandari, head of the Banking & Finance team of the council, said, “There is a need to prioritize acceleration to Rural Tourism to preserve our local crafts, cuisines, culture and generate local income and employment. With the growing trend of weekend getaways from cities to enjoy natural landscapes, social structure, and local lifestyle, easy accessibility to rural areas with basic facilities will provide the required impetus. That’s where the real Bharat is and our council is committed to making it Aatmanirbhar by collaborating with authorities and corporates.”
Dharna Shukla, head of the Research & Policy team, elaborated, “Rural Tourism is the go-to form of sustainable tourism, specially in these pandemic or post-pandemic times. These recommendations form the essence of Atmanirbhar Bharat, marching towards absolute involvement and self-reliance of the local communities. This proposal aims at achieving the sustainable development goals through the employment of Rural Tourism as a powerful tool.”
Sahana Ahmed, the National President of the council, said she is hopeful that the financial concessions, incentives, and policy interventions mentioned in the recommendation letter will be addressed positively. “The Rural Tourism Council is active in 20 states and Union Territories, and has women leaders with extensive experience in the fields of tourism, hospitality, academia, media, and business. We look forward to suggesting more workable projects for the development of Rural Tourism in the country,” she concluded.