Madikeri: The serene coffee district of Kodagu, nestled on the bowl of Western Ghats, has been facing severe economic crisis due to dwindling tourist arrivals owing to last year’s natural calamity where floods and landslides ravaged many parts of the district.
Tourism is in deep crisis with many hotel properties in Madikeri and Kushalnagar, the two busiest tourist destinations, put up for sale. Stakeholders are unable to cope with the loss in business with continued drop in tourist arrivals. In its attempt to revive tourism, the District Administration has approved 207 Home Stays to operate.
Kodagu is home to hundreds of Home Stays but only a few have registered with the Tourism Department. The Administration is in the process of verifying about 400 more Home Stays to give them the official stamp of recognition.
Those who have failed to register will be considered illegal Home Stays and invite action. As per the Department rule, it is mandatory for Home Stay owners to display a board stating that their Home Stay is registered with the Tourism Department.
It took more than a year for the Administration to assess the facilities at Home Stays since many have mushroomed all across the district without a valid licence in remote areas. Kodagu has seen an unprecedented drop in tourist arrivals this year. Tourism has not picked up after the devastating floods and landslides the coffee land witnessed last August.
The State Government brought out guidelines to regulate Home Stays and directed all Home Stay owners to register their establishments. A majority of owners are yet to follow the directions of the Department. Prior to registering their names, the owners must get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the local Police and other agencies such as the Gram Panchayat and Municipal Corporation.
If an owner has multiple Home Stays, he can register only one Home Stay where is staying. Only close relative (father, mother, son or daughter) can operate Home Stays on partnership. However, one of them must reside in the Home Stay.
Other guidelines include the owner of the Home Stay must own the land where the business is being operated. A maximum of five rooms in the Home Stay only can be provided for tourist accommodation. The Home Stays should have good a road link and ample space along with all basic amenities for tourists.
Owners should inform rates applicable for tourists. It is also compulsory for the owner to make a computerised record of tourists who have availed accommodation and generate proper bills among others. The Tourism Department has also provided rating facilities for Home Stays, which, however, is optional.
Deputy Commissioner of Kodagu, Annies Kanmani Joy, has put up a link on her Facebook page and has called upon the tourists to check the names of the Home Stays on the Tourism Department website, before they check-in. The website link is: https://kodagu.nic.in/en/tourism/accommodation/
The website page contains a list of 207 approved Home Stays. The lists of approved hotels and travel agencies have also been put up on the website, along with the contact numbers.