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Press release

QMU and Dunira Strategy help establish co-operative tourism project in rural India

Tourism specialists at Queen Margaret University have secured a Scottish Government grant to establish unique tourism co-operatives in rural India. The project will use Scottish expertise to deliver sustainable economic development in some of the most socially and economically disadvantaged communities in rural India.

Funded by the Scottish Government’s International Development Fund, Queen Margaret University, the lead partner in this destination management project, will work in partnership with Dunira Strategy, the Edinburgh based tourism consultancy. The partnership aims to support communities in rural parts of India to embrace the concept of destination management and marketing, thereby encouraging tourists to visit beautiful and unspoilt developing areas, rather than continually gravitating to the better known larger ‘honeypot’ cities and resorts. The project responds to a need indentified through Dunira’s previous work with tourism destinations and co-operatives in India.

Drawing on the social reformer, Robert Owen’s development of co-operative principles at New Lanark, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Scotland’s most popular tourism attractions, the project will equip local communities to realise the potential value of their natural and cultural heritage. It will also encourage them to use a co-operative destination management organisation (cDMO) to regenerate their communities and implement effective marketing strategies. The cDMO model will also benefit tourists who will be given new opportunities to explore less established rural destinations in India.

Professor Andy Frew from Queen Margaret University (QMU), a world expert in eTourism, explained: “If more parts of India are to benefit from the growth in global tourism, the whole country needs to embrace destination marketing and encourage tourists to travel to different and undiscovered rural settings. All too often, visitors to the country only experience the better known tourist areas and many rural communities just don’t feature on the tourist trail. A co-operative approach not only makes a destination more attractive to visitors, but also ensures that the benefits are shared more equitably, resulting in more sustainable tourism.”

Professor Frew continued: “Much of QMU’s research focuses on creating sustainable business models. The concept behind this project will help to create a more sustainable future for India’s tourism industry by spreading the economic benefits across the country and by encouraging rural agricultural economies to develop destination management organisations which will benefit their communities. This won’t be something that is achieved overnight, but it’s about building expertise for the future and exchanging skills.”


The project also aims to address gender equality in rural areas - a particularly challenging issue. The partnership believes that as communities prepare to develop their areas as tourist destinations, it is an opportune time to encourage and equip women to grow as entrepreneurs within their communities.

Dunira’s Benjamin Carey believes that the University and the Edinburgh-based consultancy are well equipped to deliver this challenging project. He said: “QMU’s substantial expertise in international tourism and commitment to social enterprise projects, coupled with Dunira’s expertise of establishing destination management systems in developing countries, ensures that the Scottish partnership is ideally suited to such an important and complex project.”

The Scottish partnership will also work with YES BANK which will act as ‘Country Manager’ responsible for facilitating project delivery in India. YES BANK, through its Strategic Initiatives & Government Advisory (SIGA) Division, has been very active in multi-stakeholder development initiatives across India, with tourism as a priority sector. The Bank will advise on country dynamics, networks, introductions, project activities and logistics in the field. It will also work in partnership with QMU and Dunira to showcase the project outcomes and identify opportunities for replicating the model elsewhere in India and internationally, including taking it to the India Government for consideration as a part of national policy.


Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs said: “This project will help over 1,000 individuals in rural India fight their way out of poverty, including women and other marginalised groups.  It will enable communities to capitalise on their cultural and natural heritage by creating tourism opportunities in order to achieve sustainable economic growth.  Yes Bank and Queen Margaret University are committed to working together to improve rural development in India and increase financial inclusion for all and I wish them well with this excellent project.”

Benjamin Carey concluded: “This is an excellent example of a knowledge exchange project whereby a Scottish based partnership, building on the historic Scottish co-operative vision, can pool the expertise of both academic and business tourism specialists, international NGOs and a leading bank to improve communities and create sustainable economic benefits in an important developing country.”

Funding for the project of £383,580 comes from the Scottish Government’s International Development Fund (South Asia Development Programme) and will run over a period of two years and nine months.

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  • Professor Andrew Frew is Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer at Queen Margaret University (see THE Group), Edinburgh. He is a leading expert in eTourism and has been active in the hospitality and tourism fields for the past 25 years specialising in the research, application and management implications of information and communication technologies. Currently he holds the Queen Margaret University Professorial Chair in IT and Tourism and is Director of Research for the School of Business. He has published widely, presented in numerous international forums and is a regular keynote speaker on trends in ICT research in travel and tourism. Andy is immediate past-President of the International Federation of IT & Travel and Tourism (IFITT) and is a Fellow of the Tourism Society, He has had widespread involvement in numerous think tanks and development forums including most recently, industry benchmarking in collaboration with the UNWTO. In addition to mainstream academic activities of learning, teaching, research and Ph.D. supervision, Professor Frew has had a longstanding industry involvement through advisory and consultancy work with over 100 completed consultancy projects in the past ten years including a variety of European Framework projects. Current research interests include electronic distribution, destination systems, new media and computer-mediated sustainability.
  • Dunira Strategy is Scotland’s leading tourism consultancy in emerging destinations with a focus on the sustainable development and environmental management of tourism. It delivers sustainable business solutions and has considerable international experience, especially on the Indian Subcontinent. Dunira's expertise lies in facilitating enduring partnerships between stakeholders and it has particular experience in building local capacity for sustainable development through tourism. Developing and applying practical tools that promote sustainability in travel and tourism are some of Dunira’s key strengths. To this end, its team of sustainable tourism consultants works with clients and partners in the public and private sectors and civil society in the UK and internationally.
  • YES BANK, India’s progressive private sector Bank, is the outcome of the professional and entrepreneurial commitment of its Founder, Rana Kapoor and his top management team, to establish a high quality, customer centric, service driven, private Indian Bank catering to the Future Businesses of India. YES BANK has adopted international best practices, the highest standards of service quality and operational excellence, and offers comprehensive banking and financial solutions to all its valued customers. YES BANK has a knowledge driven approach to banking, and a superior customer experience for its retail, corporate and emerging corporate banking clients. YES BANK is steadily evolving as the Professionals’ Bank of India with the long term mission of “Building the Best Quality Bank of the World in India”.
  • Last year, the Scottish Government awarded grant funding of £383,580 over three years to Queen Margaret University’s Co-operative Tourism Project through the South Asia Development Programme”.    


 For further media information please contact Lynne Russell, Press and PR Officer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 474 000, mob: 07711 011239.





last modified 08/03/11 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh EH21 6UU - Tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000
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