Self Reliance – Atmnirbharta’ through Tourism – an article by Prateek Hira on World Tourism Day – 2020

Tourism is at a standstill due to the pandemic but this surely doesn’t mean we do not think of it or we stop planning for its development, as tourism is the only activity that will help economies to revive fastest and sustainably.

The power of self reliance or in the words of our Prime Minister, ‘Atmnirbharta’ can be best understood in the light of tourism that has helped economies world over to grow and communities to prosper on their own. People and places where tourism prospers have shown remarkable development and growth in a self-reliant manner. Supplementary income generation for communities, alternative employment opportunities, improvement in education and living standards of its people, all have been documented to register a substantial growth with tourism flowing in. The development is somewhat equally proportional to the growth on tourism.  

Rural development in India is a subject of great importance but we have seldom seen or imagined, tourism to be an engine of growth that can accelerate the development and that too by fulfilling all ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’.

Apart from all the devastations that this pandemic did, particularly in India, the worst upheaval of the lock-down on economy was the reverse migration of labour-force that went back to the rural areas in absence of employment and support from the employers. This created many issues including poverty and hunger apart from so many others.

Tourism often is seen as an urban activity though its rural penetration, which is often overlooked, provides innumerable community benefits to both, the hosts and the guests. Not only does it supplement income of rural communities but also helps in sustaining the heritage, culture, traditions and environment of the rural areas, which are quite deep-rooted and still undisturbed as compared to the urban areas.

In present times and specially in the light of this pandemic, out of the seventeen SDGs adopted in 2015 to fulfill by 2030, at least ten hold much more importance and seem to have been set for these circumstances. These include, GOAL 1: No Poverty, GOAL 2: Zero Hunger, GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being, GOAL 4: Quality Education, GOAL 5: Gender Equality, GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality, GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities and GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

In Indian context we can turn this situation around very quickly and sooner than one could think. There could be no better way to empower our rural folks than to give them the power of Tourism. 

COVID–Break if we may call it so, is an opportune time to refocus our strategies and re-plan our goals for a sustainable tourism development focusing on rural communities. United Nations Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)’s theme for this World Tourism Day (27 September 2020) too is ‘Tourism & Rural Development’ and quite pertinent in present times.

Let’s aim to make tourism a vehicle of growth and development for a speedy revival of economy and empowerment of our rural communities.    


Prateek Hira, the author of this short article  apart from being the President & CEO of Tornos is a tourism academician and a researcher. 

Also read his remarks to TravelNewsy magazine on the occasion of World Tourism Day-2020: