Homestays as safe getaways
The state government and tourism industry stakeholders in north Bengal are planning to highlight homestays in the hills and plains to revive the tourism sector that has taken a beating in the wake of Covid-19.
While the state tourism department has planned to expedite disbursals of a one-time grant to the homestays to improve their infrastructure, stakeholders are mulling the idea of showcasing these less-crowded places as ideal tourist getaways while obeying precautions to help curb Covid-19.
“We have been working for the revival of the tourism industry that has faced massive losses. We are exploring options as to how stakeholders can be helped and thinking of backing the homestay owners and expediting payment of the one-time aid to them in this hour of crisis. This will help them improve their facilities,” said state tourism minister Gautam Deb.
In north Bengal alone, there are around 3,000 homestays, of which 1,000-odd are registered with the state.
Earlier, the state had announced that all registered homestays would be entitled to a one-time grant of Rs 1.5 lakh.
Association for Conservation and Tourism convener Raj Basu, who is also a veteran in travel trade in the region, has pointed out that the unique locations of homestays that drew thousands of visitors in the past few years is the new USP of these properties now.
“The coronavirus pandemic has led to a paradigm shift in the tourism sector with more changes in the coming days. We expect many tourists, particularly the senior citizens, will try to avoid congestion and crowds and prefer isolated and serene locations. Homestay accommodations are ideal for them. That is why we are pushing them,” said Basu.
In all, around 7,000 rooms are available in homestays of the region, he added.