The Bengal tourism department has simplified its policy on homestay tourism to help homestay owners and others planning to come up with such ventures in Bengal.
According to sources in the department, the state has revised its homestay policy 2017 “to encourage more people to open such accommodations and help those already running such facilities”.
Some of the revisions:
⚫Earlier, any application for new registration or renewal of registration had to be sent to the director of West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Limited. From now on, district magistrates can issue these certificates.
⚫Earlier, police verification of a person intending to set up a homestay accommodation was compulsory. Now, it has been made optional (or “preferable” as stated in the policy).
⚫Inspection committees will be formed at the district level so that the revised policy can be implemented in the homestays in the district.
⚫The registration certificate that would be issued to all homestays across the state will have a common format.
⚫It would not be mandatory for a homestay owner to stay on the same premises where the guests stay.
For the past few years, homestays have become a key attraction for thousands of tourists, prompting the Mamata Banerjee government to encourage this new trend in the tourism sector.
Along with a comprehensive policy, which is basically a guideline for homestays, the state had proposed a one-time financial aid of Rs 1.5 lakh to a homestay to develop infrastructure, provided the homestay concerned is registered with the department.
After the pandemic broke out, many tourists have preferred homestays over conventional hotels or lodges as homestays are mostly standalone properties in isolated places.
“The policy changes, we believe, can help. But technical issues, like ownership of land, need to be sorted out,” Raj Basu, convener, Association for Conservation and Tourism, said.
The policy changes, stakeholders said, can help create a livelihood option for some jobless migrant workers who can open homestays of their own.