In a written reply in Rajya Sabha, Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel said the ministry has launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme for Integrated Development of theme-based Tourist Circuits for development of tourism infrastructure including last mile connectivity.
He said recognising the potential of rural tourism in the country, the ministry has identified Rural Circuit as one of the 15 thematic circuits for development under this scheme.
"The objectives of the Swadesh Darshan scheme include creating employment through active involvement of local communities and promoting community-based development and pro-poor tourism approach.
"Based on the above criteria, the ministry has sanctioned two projects total amounting to Rs 125.02 crore for development of Rural Circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme which are under different stages of implementation," he said.
One of the projects has been sanctioned in Bihar during FY 2017-18 - Development of Bhitiharwa -Chandrahia -Turkaulia amounting to Rs 44.65 crore and the other in Kerala, during FY 2018-19, - Development of Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism amounting to Rs 80.37 crore, he said.
The ministry has also instituted a National Tourism Award in the category of Best Rural/Agri/Plantation Tourism Projects' to motivate the stakeholders in the tourism sector for implementing such projects.
"Ministry of Rural Development has informed us that their Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) follows the vision of development of a cluster of villages that preserve and nurture the essence of rural community life with focus on equity and inclusiveness without compromising with facilities perceived to be essentially urban in nature, thus creating a cluster of 'Rurban Villages'," he said.
Under the Mission, 300 clusters are being developed across 28 States and 8 Union Territories.Tourism is one of the themes of the Rurban cluster development.
Tourism related activities/projects are among the 21 component categories under SPMRM.
Patel said the ministry of rural development has informed that a total 67 Rurban clusters have proposed tourism-related activities in gram panchayats across 26 States/UTs.
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