Srinagar, July 6: Jammu and Kashmir government has announced the procedure for registering homestays and paying guest houses in the Union Territory of J&K in order to make it easier for more people to enter the tourism industry.
Orders to this effect were issued by Secretary, Tourism, Sarmad Hafeez here.
The aim of notifying these guidelines is to create a hassle-free environment for those wishing to register their properties as Homestays/Paying Guest Houses by simplifying many of the procedural requirements and minimising the formalities.
An added benefit of introducing the concept of Homestays is to promote local culture, cuisine, handicrafts etc. thereby enhancing the employment opportunities for local inhabitants. Homestays/Paying Guest Houses would also be encouraged at the 75 new tourist destinations recently put on the tourist map by the Department. This is expected to increase the tourist footfall by a considerable measure.
It may be recalled that the Department of Tourism in recent times has taken several path-breaking steps to upgrade tourism services, extend the touring seasons, add more destinations to the tourist map, make J&K round the year destination, golf promotion, a rigorous promotional campaign, thrust on an adventure and heritage tourism, to name a few.
As a sequel of these efforts, J&K has witnessed a huge tourist footfall over the past one and a half years and many experts say the tourist footfall of the past six months has been the highest in the last 15 years.
In line with this decision of promoting homestays, the J&K administration has earlier decided to develop 5 tourist villages within Dal Lake in Srinagar. These villages include Kachri Mohalla, Sofi Mohalla, Tinda Mohalla, Akhoon Mohalla and the Vegetable market. These villages will have all basic facilities for inhabitants as well as tourists and local visitors. These villages will also provide homestay facilities to touristsThe gamut of financial assistance worth Rs 10 lakh including Rs 8.50 lakh from banking partner, Mission youth J&K will provide several Rs 1.5 lakh or 15 per cent of project cost (whichever is minimum) as a special upfront incentive (subsidy) under the scheme.
Moreover, the beneficiary must be unemployed and registered with the concerned District Employment and Counseling Centre.
The initiative is destined to promote homestays across the UT and will strengthen the rural economy in the region, turn youth into entrepreneurs besides empower women by offering them numerous employment opportunities.
The Tourist Villages Development programme under the Mission Youth initiative, which aims at developing 75 villages having distinction in terms of scenic beauty, adventurous terrain, art and culture, history and archaeology, is gaining tremendous momentum with heavy tourist influx thronging the new destinations.
The villages to be covered under the programme are being selected based on their rural tourism potential in consultation with the Tourism Department by an expert committee of Mission Youth.
The scheme has the twin benefits of promoting rural tourism and employment generation for local youth.