Examining Potential Customers for Rural Tourism


“Definitions of tourism share a range of common elements” (Dowling 2001, p24). Mathieson and Wall (1982) say’s that tourism is the temporary movement of people to destinations out of their normal home and workplace, the activities undertaken during the stay, and the facilities created to cater for their needs. 

The development of tourism in a rural area is not simply a matter of matching tourist demands with local product supply but a matter of evaluating local suitability and acceptability by tourists. 

Even after 65 years of independence still villagers are striving for better socio-economic life and also now a day’s agriculture is becoming highly mechanized and therefore it requires less manual labor which can cause economic pressure on some villages, which leads to migration of people to urban areas. So Government is now focusing on development of the key areas which can develop the rural life as well as stop migration, Tourism was never seen as a potential business, it was growing at its own pace. Although tourism has started receiving some attention from last decade, but rural tourism was never given any priority. Service sector is contributing more than half of our GDP and also worldwide tourism is ranked second highest revenue-generating industry next to the oil industry.

It is necessary to differentiate between different type of tourists to understand and analyse their purpose of visit. There are different ways to attract domestic and foreign tourists, we need to understand what types of services are required to attract and retain the customers. There is a large potential market for rural tourism especially for urban Indian people, as cultural difference is less in between Indian, so it will be easy for villagers to understand their language and demand This potential chunk from urban India has not yet developed because government as well as Locals has not taken up any systematic approach to attract tourists. Rural tourism will bring people of different cultures, faiths, languages and life-styles close to one another and it will provide a broader outlook of life. Not only it will generate employment for the people but also it will develop soc-economic standard of villagers. 

A study on the economic impact of tourism conducted by the World Tourism and Travel Council estimated that in 2001, the consumption activity arising from domestic and international tourism will contribute 5.3 per cent of India's Gross Domestic Product. 

This phenomenal growth of domestic tourism is an inevitable by-product of the prosperity that India has achieved as an after effect of privatization and globalization.

Rural Tourism and India:

The main concept behind rural tourism is to benefit the local villagers by entrepreneurial opportunities, generation of income, opportunities for development of infra, conservation and development of rural arts and crafts, and preservation of the environment and heritage. 

In India, potential for rural tourism to be a major force in rural economic development resulting in poverty elimination is yet to be substantiated to the fullest of its magnitude.

There is a strong platform for India to develop Rural Tourism and definitely it can be encased as around 742,490,639 of the population reside in its 593,615 villages (Source census 2011). Rural Tourism is one of the few activities which can provide a solution to problems like unemployment, migration and suiciding of farmers. Besides, this there can be other factors which are shifting the trend from holidaying of beach to towards rural tourism like growing interest in heritage and culture, increasing levels of awareness, and improved connectivity.

Rural Tourism includes: -

Heritage and Cultural Tourism in rural areas comes in a wide range of forms most of which are unique to an individual local and a valuable component of the rural tourism product. Heritage and cultural tourism includes temples, rural buildings but may be extended to local features of interest including war remnants, monuments to famous literary, artistic or scientific people, historic remains, archeological sites, traditional parkland etc.

Eco Tourism: Many tourists visit rural areas for the purpose of bird and animal watching and learning about local flora and fauna. Rural tourist destination as a product is definitely very fragile in ecological, social and cultural sense. Its development requires very specific approach that could help it remain sustainable in the long term.

Agri Tourism: Tourism on the farms enables farmers to diversify their activities while enhancing the value of their products and property. Farm tourism also helps to reconcile farming interests and environmental protection through integrated land management in which farmers continue to play a key role.

Tourists who choose farm accommodation rather than other kinds of accommodation facilities look for genuine rural atmosphere where they can share intimacy of the household they live in, learn traditional crafts and skills with their hosts, make friends which is a quality, modern times have almost forgotten and above all enjoy homemade food and drinks. Some specific food labels can help consumers establish a local produce and can be used as a selling point to tourist who want to taste home grown quality food and drink.

Objectives of Study:

The main aim of the study is to: 

(1)  To find out the potential customer of rural tourism,

(2) To identify the challenges and opportunities in rural tourism from both tourist and host concerns

(3)  To identify the essential elements for the development of rural tourism.


Although Indian Tourism is in growth, but rural tourism was never given any priority or targeted as a tourist place. The concept of rural tourism can have a stately cause, it is a tourism that uses resources of rural regions, causes little or no harmful side effects, and generates high benefits to rural areas in terms of productivity, employment, status, improved distribution of wealth and a suitable way of transforming traditional beliefs, benefits and values to modern times. Very few studies have been done in India to assess the potential consumers, potential of rural tourism, related challenges and opportunities. So this research is an attempt to attain to find out the targeted customer opportunities and challenges.


The present study has been conducted in the 5 villages of Ujjain and Indore district in terms of host villages and the sample respondents comprising tourists from different socio-economic category of society. The empirical data had been collected to understand the potential customers for rural tourism. The survey was conducted using the convenient sampling method. Primary data was collected from 93 respondents of tourist (possible customer) by administering them a detailed questionnaire. And 5 villages or tourist places are covered to find out the impact of rural tourism in villages and identify the challenges and opportunities and also to identify the essential elements for the development of rural tourism. 

The secondary data was collected from different sources. Simple statistical tools are used to analyze the collected data.

Research Design:

Observation method and survey method was used to carry out research. To ensure that all the respondents are encountered with the same questioner an instruments was developed. A sample of 93 respondents was contacted in different cities like Indore, Ujjain, Mumbai and Delhi. The questionnaires consist of both open and close-ended questions. 

Tools for Data Collection:

The 93 respondents in the sample were proportionately divided into three different groups First is Professionals like IT, Dr, Engineers etc Second is Middle business owners and third is middle service men and students whose source of income is limited. The samples are selected on the basis of convenience sampling

Tools for Data Analysis:

The data for the present study was analyzed using Normal percentage method.


Respondent (Total 93)  


Age:                20 -30






                        Above 40






Gender:          Male









Occupation;               Professionals






  Servicemen & students

(16 student and 15 Service men)






Income;                      Below 2 LPA



                        2-5 LPA



                        5-7 LPA



                        7 and more






Education;      Undergraduates






                        Post Graduates



Result and Analysis:

Analyzing Potential Customer of Rural Tourism:

When research was carried out and asked about have you ever been to holidaying and would you like to go holiday once in a year, almost all of them responded they had been to holiday and would likes to spend a holiday in the place of interest, once in a year. This can be sea-beach, hills, lake, and historical place. 

When we enquired about if, respondent have any idea about the rural tourism. Only 49.4% of the respondents are aware of the term rural tourism, but their knowledge about the concept and contents is very low. Out of all respondent the most having knowledge about rural tourism are professionals and middle businessmen. Almost all of them were interested to know more about the rural tourism. This shows lack of awareness about this tourism. The percentage of knowing about term in professionals is 80.64%, 41.93% in Middle businessmen and 22.58% in Servicemen and students.

Almost all of them were interested to know more about the rural tourism. After explaining on the concept, when enquired if they would like to visit rural tourism 87.09% of professionals are interested, 38.7% of Middle businessmen and 26.6% of Servicemen and 62.5% of students like to visit. Here student’s interest is shown separately as their interest of visit is high.

When we analyze by the rate of interest to visit and income, the income of 80.64% professionals has income more than 5 LPA, and they are very keen to visit i.e. 87.09% of professionals have high potential to visit as they have high income as well as high interest. This segment should be focused in priority and can be enchased. 

Interested middle businessmen to visit is low i.e. 38.7%, but income of 70.96% is between 2-5 LPA. So they have good potential but less interest. This segment can be focused after professionals and their interest can be increased by more marketing methods.

Interested servicemen to visit rural tourism is very low i.e. 26.6%, and also the income of only 26.6% is between 2-5 LPA. Here servicemen have low potential to visit as they have low income as well as low interest. As 62.5% of students like to visit but their income is less than 2 LPA but this segment can also be enchased.

When asked how many of them has visited rural village as a tourist the most whom have visited are professional’s i.e. 16.12%, 6.4% of Business men, 3.2% of Students and 0% of Service men. 

Analyzing Challenges and Opportunities in Rural Tourism from both Tourist and Host (villagers) Concerns


When opportunity was analyzed around 58% of the people want to visit rural places as many have visited sea shore, beach, hill station etc rural tourism will be new experience for them this type of tourism is a new concept and healthy way for both villagers and tourist. In rural tourism, tourist can visit a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation, Tourists can watch or take part in traditional agricultural practices, without disturbing the ecosystem or the productivity of host areas. 

For villages opportunities are in terms of increasing their socio-economic standard, as tourism will boost financial stability and also stop migration towards urban areas. Also rural tourism could help in boosting the local performing arts and help conserve the local culture.


Challenges are both for villagers and tourist. The challenges identified are:

The major problem in rural area is that there is very little opportunity for working as most of them are engage in agriculture, forestry, artisan etc.  Insufficient Finance is the most important and crucial factor to develop infrastructure and advertising. The need to preserve the environment and natural resources, need of proper education, proper understanding of both tourists and local people, need to increase a popular environment which helps people at all levels to participate in tourism development. Also villagers need to focus on occupation training, handicraft promotion, and improvement of both the landscape and the basic infrastructure like accommodation, Lack of skilled and  trained manpower, Lack of Local Involvement, Underdeveloped people i.e. lack of basic education, Lack of proper physical communications which includes transport facility, Language problems (jargons). Also some of the villagers accepted that tourism will have impact on their social and cultural life too, so some of them strongly disagreed to have tourism in village as this will diminish the culture of village life. 

The crucial elements for the development of rural tourism: 

After the visit of villages and personal discussion with tourist the key areas to be improved are: First of all it should be in the area near by the city, so that it can be visited easily, the areas which are far and backward are of less choice. 

The most important factor is it should be approachable i.e. connection with road, rail etc. and also should have connectivity of communication. The visitors also suggested good and clean accommodation and amenities but it should be in traditional way like Tent house, Kaccha house; Outdoor recreational activities can be included for more fun and new experience, Entertainment programs like folk dance, haat bazaar etc, Traditional meals and medical facilities have importance too.


As rural peoples are not so educated and well versed with marketing activities so governments and NGO’s or some other organization should recognize importance of rural tourism at priority base and develop marketing activity for tourism, and help in making sound competitive business. Government should make decision-making bodies investing for developing the human resources; create adequate facilities and suitable infrastructure like accommodation, roads, rail facilities, local transport, communication links and other essential requirements.

Some of the essential services required to be developed for rural tourism are:

  • Plan for sustainable growth of rural tourism
  • Protecting natural resources, local heritage and lifestyles of rural.
  • Fill the narrow gaps between the rural and urban.
  • Promote traditional tourism products.
  • Improve quality, value of rural tourism.
  • Transfer skills and best practice.
  • Disseminate information to make better business decisions.
  • Share the pursuit of long-term growth and prosperity.
  • Set environmental policy goals.
  • Develop confidence of both sides
  • Develop confidence in safety and security.
  • Conclusion:

If a proper and systematic marketing plan is done it can bring lots of benefit to both part of community/society. It can be a better source of revenue generating plan for rural people and development as well. It might help a better inflow of resources from urban area to the rural area. Migration of rural people can be checked as well. Environmental management, local involvement and realistic planning are important for development of rural tourism.

The potential customers are found out to be the professionals and students where the marketing activities can be concentrated.

Rural tourism will emerged as an important tool for sustainable development including mothering employment, helps in reducing poverty, improving healthy socio-cultural and green environmental and progression of women as well. The government and some NGO’s should promote rural tourism to ensure sustainable economic development.


The limitation of this study is that the result should not be generalized, as the tourism spots have been tested in Indore region only. Furthermore, a small sample may not be the representative of the whole population and hence, in future, the research can be conduced by taking a large sample to facilitate a robust examination. The future study can also be conducted to identify the demanded type of rural tourism. The extension of this study can also include the provider’s perspective to have a better understanding of the problem domain. Validation of model and extension of the results to other industries and also to different cultures are some of the future directions in which the academics and the practitioners can work with to enrich the rural tourism.


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