For those with spacious accommodation in upmarket localities, a means of extra earning is round the corner — as a bed and breakfast (B&B). All that is required is empanelling oneself with the state tourism department, for a one-time payment of Rs 200.
Tourists inquiring about accommodation at the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) will be sent to the accredited B&Bs. The house-owner will provide food and lodging for a short period at a reasonable fee. “Though this concept is new in Bengal, it is prevalent in European countries. We are pushing the project through for those who cannot afford expensive hotels,” said WBTDC managing director Sourin Bhattacharya.
He added that advertisements would be issued in dailies, inviting private house-owners to “keep in touch with us for enlistment”. He, however, made it clear that the charges must not exceed around Rs 500 a day. “House-owners must charge rates lower than of a hotel.”
Bhattacharya explained that the B&B concept was unlike paying-guest (PG) accommodation, because “B&B is a tourist staying with a family for a short period on a daily-payment basis. But a PG is one who stays for a longer period against a monthly payment,” he added.
“The private house-owners have to fulfil certain criteria. The accommodation must be airy, with a proper, homely ambience. Besides, the breakfast, along with either tea or coffee, must be substantial,” said Pikkey Mehta, special officer with the tourism directorate.
T.P. Das, assistant director of India tourism, Calcutta, felt that the scheme, popular in places like Goa and Kerala, was picking up fast in Calcutta. “Those who can’t afford to pay exorbitant hotel charges prefer putting up in private homes. Also, a section of tourists has a special liking for private houses, where they can interact with local people to get a feel of the place,” he said.
According to Das, at least 10 to 12 private houses have already been identified in the city and its suburbs for the panel. “Efforts are on to enlist more houses as part of our scheme to promote tourism,” he added.
WBTDC officials said a monitor cell will register complaints of unhappy tourists. “We have to be extra careful about the wellbeing of the tourists. House-owners found guilty will be blacklisted,” they added.