Assam government will soon roll out a rural home-stay scheme that aims to tap tourism prospects in rural and semi-urban areas besides creating job opportunities.
‘Aamaar Aalohi (Our Guest)-Rural Homestay Scheme’ will give a new dimension and thrust to comfortable home-stay facilities of standardised services to tourists and to supplement the availability of accommodation in the rural tourist destinations, Assam Tourism Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
“The basic idea is to provide a clean and affordable place for foreigners and domestic tourists alike including an opportunity for foreign tourists to stay with Assamese families to experience local customs and traditions and relish authentic local cuisine,” he said.
The scheme will be implemented by the state government’s tourism department through Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) at an estimated cost of Rs 16.29 crore.
In the first phase for the year 2017-18, 200 such home- stays will be set up with the highest of 40 in Golaghat district where the famed Kaziranga National Park falls. It will be followed by 25 in Barpeta, home to Manas National Park, 20 each in Majuli, Morigaon, Haflong-Umrangsu, 15 in Sonitpur and 10 each in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Hajo-Sualkuchi and Darrang.
Besides providing standardised and supplementary accommodation in and around tourist areas, a primary aim of the scheme was to empower local community by creating tourism related employment and distributing economic benefits through tourism and to enrich sustainable and responsible development of eco and rural tourism, Sarma pointed out.
He further said the scheme also aims to conserve nature, culture, heritage and traditions, to create positive environmental benefits for rural people and their surroundings and to increase the value for local culture.
The government also aims to broaden the stakeholders’ base in tourism, to expand tourism related activities to rural and interior areas, to enhance education and awareness of environment and culture among hosts and visitors and to strengthen participation and decision-making in tourism of rural committees, particularly of women, Sarma said.
The existing home-stay units will get recognition through online registration as an authorised tourist establishment, professional advice for improvements of home-stays and guest services by experts, free training on home-stay and hospitality services, free publicity and marketing opportunities among others.
For newly set-up home-stay units will be entitled for financial assistance with 80 per cent of the project cost for both Assam-type cottage and stilted Assam-type cottage and the remaining 20 per cent fund would have to be arranged from bank or such other beneficiaries.