Only 1,531 registered homestays across Karnataka: Minister
Those in the tourism sector admit that not everyone wants to be under the government’s radar post registration
Sought after tourist destinations in the State, from Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu to Hampi and Agumbe, have one more thing in common – the popularity of homestays. For travellers wishing for a home away from home, homestays are the preferred type of accommodation. And for owners of these accommodations, it is a source of income.
But during the recently concluded session, the Tourism Minister, responding to a question, admitted that there are only 1,531 registered homestays in Karnataka. This has raised many questions, as the popularity and number of homestays is undeniably far higher than the admitted numbers. What has also been pointed out is just how many of these accommodations are unauthorised and how many are adhering to the rules. Ironically, the Minister’s response also denied having come across complaints of unauthorised homestays.
Those in the tourism sector too admitted that not everyone wanted to fall under the government’s radar post registration. No one has the correct figure. “In Kodagu alone, there are more than 2,000 registered and unregistered homestays. Same is the case in Chikkamagaluru. There are people who don’t want to come into the picture, but are making money nevertheless,” said a homestay owner, requesting anonymity.
Utham Hulikere, Chikkamagaluru District Homestays’ Association president, said in Chikkamagaluru, there are 150 association members. “We check if the guidelines are being followed. If anyone is off the line, we haven’t taken their membership,” he said.
Those in the sector say hesitancy to register could be because of numerous reasons. “It may not be a recorded property; or they may not able be to provide all documents needed for a homestay licence; or they may have diverted from the plan and added more rooms. Then there are some people who don’t have these issues, but simply do not want to be in the picture as they are earning what they have to. There are some others who don’t want to deal with harassment from officials, or the taxation that comes with it,” said another Homestay Association member.
But Mr. Hulikere said registration has its advantages. For one, if offers recognition on the government’s website which is usually accessed by visitors from across the world. It creates a certain confidence in the property as well as access to government schemes.
Sindhu B. Rupesh, director, Tourism Department, said according to the Karnataka Tourism Trade Facilitation Act, 2015, registration is required. “Since 2016, the focus has been on registering only homestays. Now, 26 trades have been notified and all of them are supposed to register – from hotels and resorts to amusement parks and travel operators. We are working with the Karnataka Tourism Society to get more people to register. Till now, we have not had a good database of hotels from the department and we are doing that now. People who want to claim COVID-19 related benefits from the government have to register too,” she said.
M. Ravi, founder member of Karnataka Tourism Society, said apart from Chikkamagaluru, Sakleshpur and Kodagu, the coastal belt too is seeing a lot of homestays coming up and doing really well. “We are encouraging more people to register, which will benefit everyone. For example, when we go for a roadshow, people who have registered will get a discount apart from other benefits,” he added.