UNESCO and the Rajasthan government joined hands on Thursday to promote music, art and craft forms, and other intangible cultural heritage of the state to spur socio-economic growth of several artist communities, officials said.
The project, which will run for around three-and-a-half years, will be implemented in Jodhpur, Barmer, Jaisalmer and Bikaner districts, a UNESCO official said.
"UNESCO India and the Rajasthan government's tourism department today signed a partnership agreement to promote community-based responsible tourism based on the rich intangible cultural heritage of the state," the official said.
The project will focus on cultural heritage and traditions, such as pottery, weaving and other crafts, as well as music traditions, in order to create community-led and community-benefitting tourism opportunities, UNESCO said in a statement.
"The project plans on developing 10 cultural hubs across the four districts, which will help promote diverse types of cultural heritage through hosting of events, performances, and sale of handicrafts. It will also build capacities of local communities to manage and promote their intangible heritage," the statement said.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Eric Falt, Director, UNESCO Office in New Delhi and Rajasthan's Minister of Tourism Vishvendra Singh in Jaipur at an event held at Paryatan Bhawan, the world body said in the statement.
"This agreement represents a historic moment because it is the first time we are signing such a document with an international organisation. Most importantly, it will revive traditional cultural heritage and improve livelihoods," the minister was quoted as saying in the UNESCO statement.
Rajasthan, a top favourite among tourists, is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Walled city of Jaipur was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in July.
"India is second to none when it comes to intangible cultural heritage and Rajasthan undoubtedly constitutes its number one asset. We are very pleased to sign this agreement, which aims at promoting long standing Rajasthani traditions and adding new cultural destinations for tourists to visit," Falt said.
Another UNESCO official said, the project will be implemented by UNESCO with an NGO, Contact Base, and it aims to identify appropriate cultural heritage practices which are unique to the state.
While tourism is an important source of revenue for Rajasthan, given its numerous palaces, forts, and museums, an average tourist usually stays in the state only for one to two days, UNESCO said in the statement.
The Rajasthan project is based on a model successfully developed by UNESCO and Contact Base over the last six years in West Bengal, where it has "rejuvenated 22 different art forms, provided clear economic benefits to 15,000 artists and households and converted 18 marginalised villages into vibrant cultural destinations" in some of the districts, the official said.
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