By Nimmi Chengapa*
Lockdown has been a cleansing process for the homestay business in Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka. Mass tourism has been brought under control naturally.
What the lockdown means to homestay owners? A true homestay, in its original essence, is a home where the owners who are also owners of the land, reside and spend their lives. When we have got this aspect right, it is understood that any alien danger, is a danger to the homestay owners.
So, when something like a pandemic strikes, it is but natural that we would welcome a lockdown for ourselves. We would not want anyone to enter our safe zone, our cocoon.
Yes, we are in an economic crisis just like all other businesses, but whenever the path gets clear, it will be the homestays that will be the safest for guests, as the protocol will be safety for all. Safety will be a mutual requirement.
During lockdown, as much as all businesses have had their setbacks, homestays too have had their fair share. We began to run homestays because we are small growers of coffee, and in order to sustain ourselves we need a supplementary income. However, like they say in Coorg, “mande undenge, naale mandethuni idolu!”. Translated, this means if you have a head, tomorrow you can wear the headgear/turban. Likewise, if we need to earn, we need to be alive.
So the lockdown and all that it comes with, is a saving grace. Besides, if we are to look at the larger picture, which is the environment we live in, Coorg, lockdown has been a cleansing process. Mass tourism has been brought under control naturally.
If registered, or should I say authentic homestays, can be encouraged by the Tourism Department, tourist flow can easily be regulated, as we are allowed only a limited number of people as our capacity is capped.
As each homestay has a limited capacity, social distancing will also be possible. In fact, as we are located far and wide, social distancing happens naturally. This way, it can remain a green zone.
It goes without saying, that if the premises are rented, for return on investment, the numbers have to be big. The space for social distancing would then be limited. However, safety comes first, not only for us but for our environment that we live in. We are committed to the safety, comfort and well-being of our guests and that is our motto and aim.
*Nimmi Chengapa (in picture) is the owner of a homestay in Coorg