The government of India has made rural tourism a priority in a way that can and should be a source of inspiration for governments everywhere, large and small. The Endogenous Tourism Project at Hodka was initiated in 2004. The village is famous for its embroidery and leather craft, while the surrounding region is known for a variety of crafts such as wood work, lacquer work, copper bells, rogaan work on clothes, block printing and weaving. Hodka village is situated in the Banni grassland, on the edge of the Great Rann of Kachchh – the large salt desert in Western India. The traditions of the place have been capitalised upon by UNDP and Ministry of Rural Tourism (GoI), who have chosen Hodka village as one of their 31 sites in India for an Endogenous Tourism Project owned, built and managed by the community. The resort, the Shaam-e-Sarhad Village Resort (Sunset on the Border).
Accommodation here is in beautiful tents or the traditional bhunga, a conical mud structure. While the impression is rustic, the comfort is that of any modern hotel with attached bathrooms and running water. The kitchen provides traditional food. Shaam-e-Sarhad Village Resort is small – in acceptance of the limited resources and capacity in a small village, and it can accommodate 26 persons. It is an ideal location for undisturbed work as there is no television on site and phone access is limited.
UNDP has been extremely carefully in studying the resources and traditions of the area. In particular the architecture is consistent with the local style and interior decorating utilizes the local craft competences. The project’s key action routes include the formation of rural self help groups, tourism marketing and governance structures, backed by convergent support to sustainable village infrastructure, waste management and environmental cars. The focus is thereby on sustainable capacity building with local stakeholder participation, wherein women and the rural poor are target beneficiaries
Endogenous or “transformative” tourism means travel not for pleasure alone, but also for broadening the traveller’s horizon. It seeks to transform attitudes and mindsets, by promoting a mutual understanding between the local community and the visitors, where each appreciates and learns from the other.