Tourism within India, especially in the rural context, is increasingly being seen as a way for elimination of human poverty and inequalities. Many rural tourism initiatives are being conceived within the framework of community-based tourism, which combines aspects of community development, poverty alleviation, cultural heritage and conservation.
Community based rural tourism is gaining popularity in India. The country’s National Tourism Policy of 2002 by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) announced its plans of spreading tourism development to rural areas: ‘village tourism will be promoted as the primary tourism product of India; to spread tourism and its socio-economic benefits to rural areas’. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MoT) defines rural tourism as, ‘any form of tourism that showcases the rural life, art, culture and heritage at rural locations, thereby benefiting the local community economically and socially as well as enabling interaction between the tourists and the locals for a more enriching tourism experience’1. According to Leena Nandan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India, “the primary objective is to ensure that the benefits of tourism reach every strata of society- people who live in the rural areas, in villages that have a USP for tourism, so that the socio-economic benefits of tourism are received by people who are not directly in the framework of tourism”.