By P.T. Bopanna 

The Union tourism ministry has issued fresh guidelines for homestays with a view to standardizing facilities across the country.  

According to reports, properties where their owners or promoters physically reside will be designated as homestay establishments, while those where only an agent or operator resides will be designated as bed & breakfast.

It is said most of the facilities which go by the nomenclature of homestays in Coorg are operated by agents who do not stay in the premises. 

The homestays run by agents in Coorg are invariably from outside the state. In most cases, they are fly-by-night operators who engage in running prostitution and gambling rackets.

The reports said these guidelines will constitute the Common National Standards. Each State and Union Territory will be free to build upon them to suit their requirements, while keeping the core tenets intact. The properties will be categorised as silver and gold on the basis of the facilities they offer.

A property would be classified in a two-stage procedure under which the presence of facilities and services would be evaluated against a checklist. “Due preference will be accorded to the homes, which are able to provide Indian experience by way of Indian decor, authentic and exotic Indian cuisine, etc.”

The ministry has also stated that homestays and bread and breakfast establishments too need to apply online for accreditation, approval and re-approval.

For the first time, the ministry has prepared a set of guidelines by which it will approve and classify online travel aggregators online travel (OTAs) ensuring reliability of their services.

The scheme for approval/re-approval of OTAs will be rolled out online by the end of this month and all applications and fee payment will have to be made on it. The scheme will set standards towards accreditation and add value to the dependability and reliability to the aggregators in the online space operating in the organised tourism sector.

An official said such a scheme for accreditation was necessary as letting the market operate unhindered could lead to unscrupulous players to vitiate it through unethical trade practices.

The new guidelines are welcome as far as Coorg is concerned because Coorg is considered as the homestay capital of India.

In the past, successive Kodagu (Coorg) district administrations have failed to tackle the menace of illegal homestays which have brought a bad name to genuine homestays who enable tourists to experience local culture and cuisine.

It is time the district administration cracked the whip and implemented the new guidelines to check the menace of illegal homestays.

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