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Best home away from home

- Jharkhand readies to embrace Centre’s bed & breakfast scheme to shore up tourism revenue

Jharkhand’s sleepy tourism is waking up slow but smart.

Seven years after the Centre launched the bed-and-breakfast (B&B) initiative under its Incredible India campaign, the state has decided to introduce the ambitious scheme at promising destinations.

To begin with, the tourism department, in association with India Tourism under the Government of India, will host a maiden workshop in Ranchi on Wednesday to garner response from stakeholders. Deputy director of the department S.K. Sinha said they were expecting well over 50 participants from various agencies and entrepreneurship firms.

Explaining how the B&B scheme could turn around the wheel of fortune for a wanting tourism industry in Jharkhand, Sinha said the idea was to offer visitors, both domestic and international, home-like ambience and hospitality.

He maintained that a B&B accommodation exuded more warmth than a guesthouse and was less business-oriented than a hotel. “You live like a paying guest, but shell out money for homely comforts, including food (mostly breakfast) and privacy. In places where there are no hotels or for those who cannot afford a good one, a B&B will offer a decent stay.”

According to the Union government circular, B&B accommodations are categorised as silver and gold (see box) depending on facilities offered. The owner/promoter of any establishment can enrol for the scheme by paying a paltry annual fee of Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000, respectively.

“Criteria for enrolment includes residential proof for the said property. One can let out a minimum of one room and a maximum of six rooms (12 beds). They will be free to fix their own tariff for tourists. There will, however, be a regional committee comprising members of state and central tourism officials who will inspect the homes before giving the go-ahead,” Sinha said.

Enrolment will be valid for two years after which it may be renewed following the same mandatory inspection. “Enrolled B&B accommodations will be on our approved list, which will help them earn regular revenue. Their coffers will never run dry,” he added.

On why the department took so long to implement the money-spinner scheme, the deputy director fumbled for a suitable answer.

“Even the Centre didn’t pursue the matter in the right earnest. In the current fiscal, all states have been asked to revive the B&B accommodation initiative,” he said.

According to a report, Impact of Naxalism on Tourism, released in the Lok Sabha last month by minister of state with independent charge Shripad Yesso Naik, Jharkhand has seen a good 44.1 per cent rise in its number of foreign visitors between 2012 and 2013. The state is second only to Maharashtra, which has notched 56.7 per cent.

However, the commendable tourist influx has had less to do with the department’s initiatives and more to do with international events, especially in sports.

Jharkhand tourism has hardly made any landmark move in the past 14 years as a result of which most destinations are crying for attention. Sinha conceded challenges and said things might change for the better if the new scheme succeeded.

Do you think the B&B scheme will take off in the state?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com