Principles developed at New Lanark help shape first
co-operative destination management organisation in India
University tourism experts, working in partnership with Scottish destination specialists, have applied principles developed at New Lanark in the 19 th century to establish the first ecotourism co-operative in rural India.
eTourism expert, Professor Andy Frew from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh has led a collaboration with Dunira Strategy, Scottish destination specialists and experts in co-operative tourism development which is devising a new model of destination management that is as relevant in the Highlands of Scotland as it is in the foothills of the Himalayas. The team is now celebrating an important milestone in the project with the registration of Bageshwar Ecotourism Co-operative Society (BECS) in India.
This co-operative tourism development project, funded by the Scottish Government’s South Asia Development Programme,, is supporting communities in rural India to embrace the concept of destination management and marketing. The aim is to encourage tourists to visit beautiful and unspoilt less established destinations, rather than continually gravitating to India’s better known larger ‘honeypot’ cities and resorts.
Benjamin Carey from Dunira Strategy explained: “The project is all about building local capacity. By training people in local communities we can help them manage their own area as a tourism destination, equipping them with the skills to develop efficient supply chains and market their destination to visitors through effective distribution channels. The overall aim is to create viable rural tourism destinations which can be developed as sustainable businesses , thereby building strong and healthy rural communities with a bright and confident future. It should also help to spread the economic benefits of tourism more evenly throughout the country.”
The concept for the project is based on the ‘co-operative principles’ developed in the 19 th century by the social reformer, Robert Owen at New Lanark, which is now one of Scotland’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Robert Owen was one of the founders of the co - operative movement and it was his philosophy of building strong communities and successful businesses that turned around the fortunes of the people and the industry in New Lanark. Benjamin Carey said: “It is the principles applied at New Lanark all those years ago, that will support the success of these new tourism co-operatives in rural India.”
Professor Frew said: “This is a very timely project. This year (2012) has been designated ‘International Year of Cooperatives’. Following our recent milestone where we registered the first ecotourism co-operative society, 2012 will see the replication of this model across the Indian Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and West Bengal. This new network of co-operative destination management organisations (cDMOs), to be branded ‘ Edge of India ’ , will be supported by a world class destination portal designed by Scottish software developers eZone .”
Professor Frew continued: “This project is one of extremes. One part of the project is the development of very basic rural tourism projects which are locally sensitive, but at the same time, these are being presented to the world through the use of leading edge technologies.”
To emphasise the Scottish influence on this project, there are future plans to mark the hand-over stages of the project with a seminar at New Lanark. The event will explore the legacy of this Indian destination management project, specifically the implications of co-operative principles for sustainable economic development, which is a key programme priority for the Scottish Government and a central element of QMU’s Sustainable Business Flagship.
Education Secretary Michael Russell said: “This is a great example of a Scottish educational excellence helping others around the world. It also demonstrates how natural and cultural heritage can be embraced and used to help drive economic development through tourism in rural areas. I hope it will achieve the aim of using Scottish expertise to help lift some of India’s most disadvantaged communities out of poverty.”
The project team also include the innovative Indian Bank YESBANK which is responsible for facilitating project delivery in India. YESBANK, which has been very active in multi-stakeholder development initiatives across India, with tourism as a priority sector, is identifying opportunities for replicating the model in other parts of India and internationally, including working with the project team to take it to the India Government for consideration as a part of national policy.
For further media information please contact Lynne Russell, Press and PR Officer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 474 0000, mob: 07711 011239, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is also mentioned on the Scottish Government's website after External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced (on 01/11/12) four groundbreaking collaboration projects between leading education institutions in Scotland and India.