Sushma Rewal Chugh
This paper examines the issue of women empowerment through tourism in
Himachal Pradesh, a predominantly rural state where tourism is a flourishing industry. The tourism industry cannot be visualised without women participating actively in the growth of the industry. The role of women in informal tourism settings such as running home-stay facilities, restaurants and shacks, crafts and handicrafts, handloom, small shops and street vending is significant in Himachal Pradesh. Women have gained tremendous importance since the advent of alternative tourism. General perceptions of the native population are that females play a passive and submissive role in tourism. Through this paper an attempt is made to understand female perceptions and to determine if tourism is actually leading towards women empowerment. Using stratified random sampling, 150 females were selected on convenience as well as judgement basis from the Kullu area of Himachal Pradesh, India. The selection of Kullu area was based on tourist arrivals; Kullu district of the Himachal Pradesh is amongst the top three tourist destinations in the state. While selecting the sample, care was taken to choose respondents that represented the entire population. An opinion survey was administered on the sample. Response to each statement was evaluated on a 3-point scale of “Agree’, ‘Disagree’ or ‘Cannot Say’ and each opinion and statement were assessed statistically using frequencies and percentages. Survey results indicate that tourism is actually leading towards empowering women.
Keywords: Alternative tourism, informal sector, local community, tourism, women