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Bengal tourism department to conduct training programmes for homestay owners

Bid to improve services at accommodations

Binita Paul Siliguri Published 31.07.23, 09:22 AM
A homestay at Mirik

A homestay at Mirik File picture

The Bengal tourism department has decided to conduct training programmes for homestay owners across the state to hone their skills in customer services and management of accommodations. According to sources, training modules for homestay owners are being prepared by the technical education, training, and skill development department. The courses are prepared after the principal secretary of the department received a letter to the effect from Nandini Chakraborty, the principal secretary of the state tourism department. “A meeting of the state task force for tourism was held on May 22 where it was decided that training modules on virtual mode would be developed. The tourism department has proposed that classes and practical demonstrations through pre-recorded videos be incorporated into the training so that it can be hassle-free and less time-consuming for the trainees,” said a source in the department. A 20-hour course module has been readied for the training, which includes theory classes of eight hours and practical classes for 12 hours. “The prospective trainees have been asked to join the course online so that they can learn at their convenient time. Altogether, 11 topics would be taught in the course,” the source said. The topics include understanding rural destinations and their importance and how tourists can be guided about the locations. “For these topics, there will be online training for 40 minutes, both theoretical and practical. The second topic is on market linkage while the third topic is on the planning to develop a village as a tourism destination,” said an official. The other topics in which experts will train the homestay owners include concept planning of the homestay, food production, food layout and services, creating activities for tourists with special interests, housekeeping, working on guest delight and waste management. “Each of these classes will be for around 30 to 45 minutes. Also, there will be practical demonstrations or hands-on training on housekeeping, food layout, and service and waste management. This will be a five-hour-long class on the day of assessment,” he added. As of now, eight districts of north Bengal have 1,608 officially registered homestays, while there are another 2,000-odd unregistered homestays. The Kalimpong district has around 1,034 registered homestays, which is the highest in north Bengal. There are registered homestays in Darjeeling (232), Jalpaiguri (119) and South Dinajpur (27) as well. “The chief minister and the state government are giving impetus to the homestays as a source of livelihood. The government is extending help to the homestay owners through financial assistance and training, development of local infrastructure and campaigning about the new locations where these facilities have come up,” said a joint secretary in the tourism department. Those associated with the tourism sector have welcomed the initiative. “The training will improve the quality of service in homestays and in the coming days, the number of guests will go up,” said Samrat Sanyal, the general secretary of the Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network.

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