India@60 events held in Singapore from 5-7 April, 2008 saw a unique first-time highlight. Eight skilled artisans from four of the Union Tourism Ministry’s UNDP-partnered Rural Tourism locations showcased their site attractions, through impressive onsite art & craft demonstration and display.From Banawasi (Uttar Kannada District, Karnataka), Shri Shripad Purohith and Shri Umesh Gudigar brought delicately carved sandalwood and Yakshgana masks.
Ms. Malti Devi and Ms. Sushila Devi, representing Nepura (Nalanda District, Bihar) demonstrated their delicate skills in tussar silk weaving.Hodka Village (Kachchh District, Gujarat) featuring acclaimed national awardee Shri Bhasar Bhura Khoyla and Shri Sumar Bhura Khoyla, was thronged by visitors wishing to sample Kachchhi embroidery on fabric and leather and to learn about the ethnic visitor stay facility ‘Sham-e-Sarhad’.
Shri Gangadhar Maharana and Shri Lingaraj Maharana from Raghurajpur (Puri District, Orissa) re-created the magic of pattachitra painting, using traditional organic colours.The eight participating artisans, most of whom travelled overseas for the first time, also saw at first-hand, international competitive packaging, merchandising and promotional practices.
The India@60 events thus enabled extensive direct rural interface with the travel trade, consumers, craft stores, corporate organisations and the media, with innovative collateral.Ms. Leena Nandan, Joint Secretary, GOI Ministry of Tourism said, “UNDP and the Ministry of Tourism have partnered the Rural Tourism Project based on natural heritage, art and craft skills of rural communities at 36 sites in 20 states, branded as Explore Rural India ,as niche components of Incredible India, have acquired market recognition through hyperlinks, print creations, media campaigns in print and television, and the vibrant Annual Report cover exclusively featuring Rural Tourism.”
Ms. Leena Nandan added, “These unique experiences of rural life in low-impact settings, off the beaten track, are characterised by local participation. The target is low-volume, high-value visits, compatible with local community acceptance, the carrying capacity of the environment and visitor satisfaction, particularly the special interest stratum seeking interactive experiences of rural life. Explore Rural India has made impressive progress with tourism industry partnerships.”
Community participation in the Project has been strengthened through site artisans’ structured involvement, progressing from national to regional and international levels at Dilli Haat and IITF, the Toshali Mela in Bubaneshwar and now the India@60 roadshow in Singapore. Wide media and trade focus was earlier attained at WTM and ITB, the world’s principal tourism forums, and Project partners’ participation in last month’s International Responsible Tourism Conference at Kochi with its special Rural Tourism session.