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Crafts in the Policy Space

Craft, Handloom, Art, Op-Ed, Policy, Sustainability, Sustainable Devt.

Crafts in the Policy Space: Crafts and Tourism

Bhasin, Anuradha

A little-known survey of the tourist-centric regions of Kerala and Rajasthan* shows that tourism has an enormous impact on the incomes and livelihoods of artisans in the region. Incomes of ‘folk artists’ for example are four times higher during tourist seasons compared to their off-season incomes; higher earnings of all artisans from their proximity to tourist centres enables them to improve their quality of life.

The multiplier effects of tourism are well known: that money spent by a tourist has a cascading effect on incomes and employment through an economy, because tourism is strongly linked to so many other areas of activity. This borne out by the survey mentioned above which shows, for example, that 96 per cent of the income of the artisans surveyed in Kerala and 90 per cent in Rajasthan is derived from tourist spending. The flip side of the scenario is of course that during a nuclear blast year (such as 1998) or a plague year, tourism-dependent craftspeople suffer badly. Artisans clearly stand to gain from tourism, but this important avenue for advancement has almost completely been ignored in India. Crafts products can be found in ‘cottage industries’ emporia, but how many of the local crafts can you find next to a tourist spot, which is where visitors often spontaneously buy mementos? After spending a day or more marvelling at the craftsmanship of the 14th and 15th century sculptors of the sprawling Vijaynagar ruins at Hampi, there is nowhere you can buy something from their p...

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