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Bengal tag, cash for Alipurduar homestay accommodations

District magistrate Surendra Kumar Meena says so far, 28 owners have received certificates which will help them continue their business better
A homestay at Mendabari in Alipurduar district.
A homestay at Mendabari in Alipurduar district.
Anirban Choudhury

Our Correspondent   |   Alipurduar   |   Published 01.08.22, 12:38 AM

Owners of homestay accommodations in Alipurduar district have started receiving registration certificates from the Bengal government and will also soon receive financial aid from the state.

District magistrate Surendra Kumar Meena said that so far, 28 homestay owners have received the certificates which would help them continue their business better. There are 106 homestays across the district.

“According to the state government’s policy on homestay tourism, we have taken up the task to get each of these homestays registered with the state tourism department. This will help us have a comprehensive database on these accommodations. The homestays will be under the monitoring of the state and we will be able to confirm that tourists checking in are getting quality service,” said Meena.

Under the policy, a registered homestay owner can receive an assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh from the state government in three phases, he added.

“They can use the fund to improve the infrastructure of their homestay like developing rooms and washrooms, getting new furniture and the like. These 28 accommodations of our district will soon receive assistance for the first phase,” the DM added.

In north Bengal, homestays have mushroomed over the past few years, both in hills and in the plains. According to sources in the state tourism department, the highest number of such accommodations are in Kalimpong district (452), followed by Darjeeling (171).

“These days, many tourists are choosing offbeat destinations in the hills and the Dooars instead of popular places. Thesealso usually pick homestays. That is why these accommodations are coming up in the hills. Homestays also give residents of remote villages an alternative earning option,” said an official of the tourism department.

He said that along with registration and financial assistance, the department, along with different associations of tourism stakeholders, is also conducting training programmes for the owners, their families and staff.

“Recently, such a training programme was conducted at Gorubathan in Kalimpong district. We want to ensure that tourists get quality food and accommodation, that hygiene is maintained in the kitchen and rooms and no tourist is overcharged,” the official added.

Tamal Goswami, the coordinator of the Alipurduar District Tourism Association, said such initiatives would help the homestay owners.

“There is still a perception among some people that homestays are illegal accommodations. But now that they would have a registration certificate of the state government, no one would think that. The incentive and the training will largely help owners as most of them are from rural areas and have entered the hospitality industry for the first time,” said Goswami.

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