G20 tourism focuses on rural sector for community empowerment
The first meeting of the G20 Tourism Working Group to be held under the Indian Presidency has placed the focus on the sector’s role in advancing the 2030 Agenda.
To deliver the Goa Roadmap for Tourism as a Vehicle for Achieving the SDGs, the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is working as the knowledge partner to the Presidency.
This meeting, which was held in the Rann of Kutch between February 7 and 9, also featured a side event dedicated to rural tourism for community development and poverty alleviation. At the meeting, UNWTO shared its recently launched Tourism for Rural Development Programme, including the Best Tourism Villages Initiative.
The side event was an opportunity to highlight opportunities for rural tourism, including new consumer behaviours and growing interest in new destinations. The meeting also explored the main challenges facing the sector, particularly with regards to digital and non-digital infrastructure, the empowerment of local communities and skills development.
The findings presented were the result of an analysis of more than 200 candidacies by villages from around the world to the Best Tourism Villages Initiative as well as UNWTO Member States priorities and policies.
Representatives from Indonesia, Spain, Italy and Japan joined UNWTO, the UN Environmental Programme, the International Labour Organisation and the South Asia Women’s Network (SWAN) in discussing how tourism policy can support tourism’s contribution to rural development.
Participants noted that the sustainability of tourism in rural areas is dependent on a comprehensive planning strategy, which is adopted and implemented based on a multi-action and multi-stakeholder participatory approach.
Furthermore, it was observed that rural tourism requires the support of regional and local governments, the private sector, industry associations, civil society, communities and tourists.
Recognising the immense potential of rural tourism in the country, the Ministry of Tourism of India, in 2021, formulated a National Strategy and Roadmap for Development of Rural Tourism. Reflecting this, the event also included rural tourism cases from India, such as Astro-tourism, homestays and women empowerment as well as the Indian village selected by UNWTO to join the Best Tourism Villages Upgrade Programme – the Khonoma Village in Nagaland.