Himachal Pradesh, the Indian state at the foothills of the mighty Himalayas is perhaps one of many Indian states which have given a major boost to the Homestay concept. The state government has been giving several exemptions in the procedural registration of such units, including change of land use fee, luxury tax, sales tax and commercial charges on electricity, etc.
The adoption of a liberal attitude of the authorities of Himachal Pradesh towards rural tourism promotion and in encouraging people to create basic infrastructure to cater to the basic requirements of the tourists visiting rural and remote areas have seen a marked surge in the number of registered homestays which cater to the various needs of guests and are also of
Owing to the topography of the Himachal Pradesh, the entire state is donned with several beautiful hill-stations – both big and small. The big hill-stations are visited frequently by visitors and have seen a surge in the number of hotels that cater to the needs of visitors. Having said that in the last couple of years, Himachal has seen a steep rise in the number of tourists visiting these places and there is a perpetual dearth of rooms. Unable to cope with the pressure of tourist arrivals, the quality of service offered by these hotels has also deteriorated considerably.
However with the patronage from Himachal tourism homestays are now slowly emerging as the foremost option for visitors to stay and enjoy their stay in this abode of the Gods.
Moreover, with the bigger hill-stations in Himachal being done-to-death by visitors, Himachal Pradesh has also seen the rise of tourist interest in smaller and off-the-beaten-track destinations in the upper reaches of the State.
For instance, till a couple of years back, visitors were not even aware that a beautiful destination like Sarahan actually existed. But thanks to the homestays in the area, Sarahan has found a place in the tourism map of Himachal Pradesh’s long list of exquisite and quaint hill-stations.
This trend has come across as major opportunity for the locals who can turn their homes into homestays and earn a steady income. Plus, they get a unique opportunity to share ideas with the visitors coming to their homes, thus broadening their horizons.
Today both domestic as well as foreign tourists can live in a homely environment and to take advantage of the homestays in the state.
“The homestay scheme launched a couple of years back by the state government has received overwhelming response from the household owners. Under the scheme, any resident can rent out a portion of his house to the tourists after getting the premises registered with the tourism department,” Himachal Tourism Director Arun Kumar Sharma said.
“We have exempted the registered private houses from luxury and sales tax. Moreover, they will be charged domestic rates for electricity and water. So staying in these houses is not only cozy but also cheaper.”
“The homestay scheme, launched on the pattern of the union tourism ministry’s ‘Incredible India Bed and Breakfast Scheme’, not only helps generating self-employment opportunities for the local people but also decongesting urban areas. The scheme helps decongesting urban towns and also checks fleecing by hoteliers during the peak season,” Mr. Sharma added.
Elaborating more on the scheme, the Publicity Officer of Himachal Tourism said in an exclusive interview to Holiday Home Times: “Any resident of Himachal Pradesh can opt to register for the homestay scheme. All they need is a minimum of one spare room and a maximum of three rooms.”
He said, “The applicant can apply in the prescribed proforma to the District Tourism Development Officer of the Department of Tourism, Himachal Pradesh under whose jurisdiction the area falls for approval/ registration of the homestay unit under the scheme along with a affidavit of the owner of the given property.”
“A district tourism development officer will then ensure the location, facilities, surrounding environment, hygiene, cleanliness, security, architectural designs and safety of the visitors before registering the homestay units,” he added.
One can download the following forms and submit them at the nearest tourism department office with the required documents.
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