UNWTO gives Indian village ‘Best Tourism Village’ award

United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has recognised Dhordo in the Gujarat state in India as the “Best Tourism Village” for its contribution to sustainable tourism, cultural preservation and rural development.

An image of the annual Rann Utsav festival in Dhordo in the Gujarat state in India. Supplied

Published Oct 27, 2023

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Durban-The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has recognised Dhordo in the Gujarat state in India as the “Best Tourism Village” for its contribution to sustainable tourism, cultural preservation and rural development.

ANI News reports that Dhordo, in Gujarat’s Kutch district, is a serene village and is globally acclaimed for hosting the annual Rann Utsav festival.

This vibrant cultural festival is a stage for the exhibition of the region’s traditional arts, music and crafts and visitors from around the world have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture.

The recognition of Dhordho as the “Best Tourism Village” is expected to have far-reaching implications for the region’s economy.

Last year the Rann Utsav festival attracted more than 98 000 Indian tourists and 7 400 international tourists, enhancing its growing reputation as a key tourism destination.

According to ANI, the local community of Dhordho played a vital role in the village’s transformation with their active participation in cultural preservation, traditional handicrafts and hospitality ensuring that ‘tourists have an authentic experience while contributing to the local economy’.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) said the honour showcases the potential of Indian tourism.

“Absolutely thrilled to see Dhordo in Kutch being celebrated for its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. This honour not only showcases the potential of Indian tourism but also the dedication of the people of Kutch in particular. May Dhordo continue to shine and attract visitors from around the world,” Modi said.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is a United Nations agency working to promote tourism for sustainable development. It recently announced its list of Best Tourism Villages 2023.

The recognition goes to villages that are leading the way in nurturing rural areas while preserving landscapes, cultural diversity as well and culinary traditions, a UNWTO statement said.

India’s Ministry of Tourism on X said the accolade reflects the village's exemplary contribution to sustainable and responsible tourism.

The UNWTO in a statement said the villages are evaluated under nine key areas, including cultural and natural resources, promotion and conservation of cultural resources, economic, social, and environmental sustainability, and tourism development among others.

Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO recognises outstanding rural tourism destinations with accredited cultural and natural assets, a commitment to preserving community-based values, and a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability across economic, social, and environmental dimensions, it said.

Launched in 2021, the Best Tourism Villages initiative is part of the UNWTO Tourism for Rural Development Programme. The programme works to foster development and inclusion in rural areas, combat depopulation, advance innovation and value chain integration through tourism and encourage sustainable practices.