As countries brace themselves for a world post-pandemic, one industry which has suffered enormous losses needs a complete overhaul. Even as people return to their pre-lockdown lives, chances that they will start undertaking tourism as before are bleak.
Though ‘Mission Begin Again’ is under way world over, travelling while adhering to safety protocols can prove to be quite a hassle.
It is in this light the recent decision of Maharashtra Government to come up with Agro-Tourism policy should be seen.
Blending agriculture and tourism and harnessing its potential for people’s welfare is indeed a praise-worthy idea. Thanks to the efforts and vision of State Tourism Minister Mr Aaditya Thackeray, the Cabinet recently approved the Agro-Tourism policy.
What Is Agro Tourism?
While such policies and initiatives are commonplace abroad, Maharashtra under the leadership of Chief Minister Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray has once again proved to be one of the pioneers of this concept in our country.
Countries like United States, United Kingdom, Itlay have already embraced Agro-Tourism and are reaping its rich dividends for decades now.
It is a big step in changing the tourism landscape of Maharashtra as well, especially as the state is leaving no stone unturned to overcome the economic woes in a post-pandemic world.
It capitalises on the richness of rural life and at the same time brings people closer to nature and life.
The Agro-Tourism Policy will revive the rural sector and agriculture practitioners with a steady source of alternative income and employment through tourism like farm stays, etc, as Mr Thackeray rightly pointed out.
How Agro Tourism Will Benefit Farmers
The chief focus of the policy is to give a fillip to rural development through agricultural tourism and marketing of farm products. This policy will enable growth of agro-based businesses which eventually will lead to creation of more employment opportunities.
The policy is nothing short of a boon for farmers who toil hard in their fields for the entire year and at times have to face losses due to several unforeseen circumstances.
Activities like farm stays and selling farm produce directly to tourists, though in a small quantity, will help them reduce their dependence on farm income to some extent.
Right from the word go, the entire concept seems to be the one which will boost the finances of a farmer and the entire rural economy as a whole as Maharashtra basically is an agriculture state. Farmers need innovative schemes and fresh outlook to capitalise on their infrastructure and skills.
The MVA government understands this and, therefore, is taking decisions by keeping farmers and their well-being at the forefront.
How Tourists Are to Gain From Agro Tourism
While this is undoubtedly another step in sustainable development of the farming community, it spells Advantage Tourists as well, as they get a chance to reconnect with Nature. Who would not like a getaway today, away from the hustle-bustle of the urban chaos? It’s a win-win situation for all. While on one hand, this forward-looking new policy will boost rural economy, it will also boost more tourism avenues.
I have been told by several of my acquaintances who have been to Austria that one of the major attractions of tourism there is the ‘Sound of Music’ tour. An entire tour is built around the famous Hollywood movie.
It is time we too started showcasing our rich culture and heritage in a big way. Formulating Agro-Tourism is just the first and right step in its direction.
(The author is senior Shiv Sena MP. This is a blog, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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