Recognising Dhordo’s outstanding contribution to sustainable tourism, cultural preservation, and rural development, the village in Gujarat’s Kutch district has been awarded with the “Best Tourism Village” title by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), an official statement said.
From Salty marshland to an Iconic destination of the Western Indian Subcontinent – Dhordo, in the Rann of Kutch, has become the face of Gujarat’s development. Tourism has projected this formerly nondescript village onto the world tourism map. Dhordo is a serene village nestled within the vast expanse of the Great Rann of Kutch and is globally acclaimed for hosting the annual Rann Utsav.
Dhordo is commended for its achievements especially considering that it faces environmental and geographic extremities making development in the area extremely challenging. Coupled with these hardships, the Bhuj earthquake of 2001, devastated this village even more.
The initiative of using tourism as a key device to showcase what otherwise has been impeding the general development of the locality has worked wonders for the village. Tourism was launched through Rann Utsav, a four-month festival whereby a special tent city was created in the desertic land with all the necessary amenities made available to tourists. It is during these four months that the village comes to life displaying all the natural and cultural resources/products to its consumers. The economy is growing because the products are promoted nationally and internationally, and consumers are eager to engage with the resources as much as they want to learn the art of making them. In the fiscal year 2022-23, the event contributed Rs 468 crore in revenue from GST. The festival attracted over 98,000 Indian tourists and 7,400 international tourists, further emphasizing its importance as a key tourism destination.
The local natural and cultural resources are critical hence why both community and government have taken the initiative to conserve and sustainably use its limited resources. The state initiated the Heritage Tourism Policy that promotes conservation of old properties through Public Private Partnership; the Gujarat Tourism Policy, which allows financial incentives for investors towards constructing Bhungas as lodgings.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi expressed his delight at Dhordo’s recognition by the UNWTO. He shared his excitement on social media, celebrating the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty that Dhordo embodies He extended an invitation for people to share their memories and experiences in Dhordo, hoping to inspire more individuals to visit this remarkable village.
The UNWTO’s Best Tourism Village award is a prestigious recognition that honours villages for their remarkable achievements across diverse domains. These encompass rural development, the preservation of their original landscapes, the promotion of cultural heritage and diversity, as well as the safeguarding of local values and culinary traditions. The evaluation process, which relies on nine key criteria encompassing economic, social, and environmental sustainability, cultural and natural resources, and value chain integration, identifies and celebrates these exceptional rural tourism destinations.