The Hotch Potch of Home stays around Shimla

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Home stays a highly appreciated scheme was launched in 2008 seems to be losing its entire ethos. A concept planned to provide the rustic ethnical experience to a tourist visiting the hills, is primarily taking a back seat in the lack of proper monitoring and trainings to stakeholders by the department concerned. Except for a very few, majority home stays are not able deliver the experience expected and are getting turned in merely a guest house.
Rahul a tourist in lookout for a home stay experience states “This visit to Shimla I decided to stay at a home stay near Shimla at Dudhli, aspiring to gather experience of the local essence near town, but instead it turned into hell.” The home stay was more like a hotel with 15 rooms in service, the staff in service was too under trained, he added. Adding that when he garnered feedback, was informed that the property is registered as a home stay but operates like a hotel, so even the staff involved in not trained as like of a hotel, therefore the gap is getting visible.
Even sources from the trade confirm that in areas like Chamyana, Chaili,Poabho, Ragyan, Dudli, Shoghi, Panthaghatti, Anandpur and many more areas around Shimla, there are many properties which are registered as Home Stays but are operating like a hotel with room capacity of more than ten. However as per the parameters set for home stay registration a property cannot be more than 3 rooms to be registered. The Himachal Pradesh home stay, scheme 2008’rule states, ‘The house shall fulfill the minimum requirement of having one or more room’s accommodation subject to a maximum of three rooms to cover under the scheme with attached toilet facility which will be made available to the tourists as Home Stay accommodation’.
“It proves two things here,” rued a hotel owner in terms of anonymity. “One that ome home stay are not being monitored properly as per the scheme parameters, and two that the tourist is not getting the experience delivered for which this scheme was conceptualized,” he added. So not only that it is eating into the hoteliers business, but also damaging for tourism as for the visitor the entire home stay experience is lost and they take back a negative experience,” he said.
Though, the tourism department justified saying that in lack of manpower with the department it becomes very difficult to monitor everything. Yet agreeing in a cleft stitch they said that there job is to promote tourism, and ensure that the visitor to the state is best accommodated. Therefore sometimes, such aspects are ‘under written’ to arrange comforts for all visitors, who are in lakhs in prime time, they added. “Instead of making my tourist sleep on Railway Station on 31st night, I would rather want them to be comfortable, as during peak season numbers of rooms available are usually lesser than the arrivals” added the tourism official.
Home Stay was an experience based concept for the guests of the state, explained Gurpreet Singh a professional consultant. It was designed to provide a unique insight of life and culture of the state to guest and along with take tourism business to villages for up-liftment, he added. “So what good is it if starts working on lines of hotel?” he questioned.
He said alongwith monitoring, training also is a equally critical factor effecting home stay business of the state. Adding,” though some villages are being trained under IDIBT project by the World Bank but that might not be enough.” He stressed that a specific training schedule need to be laid down for all registered home stays, so that the experience of the tourist visiting these places gets value added and converts into repeat clientele. “In the end it the tourist who is the best brand messenger,” he summoned.
On this front the department of tourism informed that based in supply and demand, training modules are conducted for home stay owners once in a year or so. Yet there is no regular module of training which a home stay aspirant has to go through if registered under the scheme, they informed.
However the result is that in a state where tourism is always a priority subject for all, home stay business is hardly able to deliver results as per the plan. Whereby many home stays are just registered in scheme but are not finding any guests due to lack of expertise, said Nillu a Home Stay operator from Jubbal.
The people running these home stay have to be trained to the extent that they are able to deliver a memorable experience to their guest and simultaneously that would peculates the benefit among to others in the vicinity too through ancillary business. Whereby only adding numbers in the home stays would not be enough to profess on our Tourism department website that” Comfy Cozy Cocoons that make you feel at home”, state experts.

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