On the occasion of National Tourism Day today, it is an opportune time to look back and reminisce about how tourism fared especially from a homestay/Bed-n-Breakfast (BnB) perspective.
India is widely regarded as a fascinating land of heritage, inter-mingling of cultures and more recently a fast progressing economy. However, this previous year had more than it’s shares of upheavals and chaos in our country.
Yes, there have been cases of tourist harassments, less than perfect tourism management and other safety issues but there is also an underlying fabric of Indian hospitality that has shone on quite a few occasions this year. It has renewed my faith in Indian hospitality and I hope it overcomes the negatives about it.
- Agitation in Srinagar: Remember the 60 odd day agitation where our security forces had to deal with miscreants in the crowd who were rioting for terrorist(s)? Well, it did hamper the tourism in the valley as Srinagar became unsafe. Since Srinagar also acts as a through route for Leh/Ladakh region, many Leh bound visitors canceled their trips, cut them short or delayed them. This could not kill the spirit of the local hosts though. Many of the locals prioritized the safety of the tourists over a business and not only guided the incoming tourists remotely, but also took risks in picking them up from Srinagar airport in the evenings and personally escorting them into Leh/Ladakh valleys. A homestay owner who I know personally, risked his life and shelled out his own money to drive down to Srinagar personally and extract the Leh bound tourists to their destinations without asking for a single extra penny!
- Demonetization drive: Although the demonetization drive seems to be a step in the forward direction, it left many of the foreign travellers in shock and painful situations. A lady, Jenny who was only carrying Indian currency and was here for a medical condition became helpless because not othe nly could she not pay tariff for her stay but could not even foot her medical bills as the hospital she checked into refused to honor the government’s mandate to accept cash for medical purposes. However, the host family (Ms. Kapoor) Jenny had been staying with asked her to pay them after she returned to her country. Not only that, they also helped Jenny pay for her medical bills. Jenny had come to India a bit apprehensive about women’s safety issues, esp. in Delhi, but went back singing praises of the hospitality she had received! We had mentioned about Demonetisation and its rationale in an earlier post: http://bit.ly/2h1B6jw
- It is surprising to know but quite a few American and European exchange students visit India every year and they usually stay for three to six weeks. But it is unfortunate that most of their Indian facilitators make them stay in shoddy, shady accommodations in equally unsafe locations. When they learnt about the option of homestays in India and saw how good they can be, these students did not mind shelling out a bit of extra money to live in the comforts of homes in residential areas. Many homestay owners treated these children as their own and looked after their needs as they would, of their grandchildren. Some of the students went back home after learning some cool Indian culinary skills they had learnt from the kitchens of their hosts! Since then we have witnessed a surge in requests for good, quality and preferably homestay accommodations from the incoming foreign students.
**This blog was published on BnBNation earlier, but due to server issues, the content was wiped out. Thus, it is being published again.