KOCHI: With the tourism sector returning slowly to normalcy, homestays are seeing the arrival of new players. From 300-odd licensed homestays with classifications, their number in the state has gone up to around 600. The state government has done away with some rules to aid the smooth functioning of homestays, but a new set of regulations has triggered fresh problems. Then there are the unlicensed ones.
Kerala State Homestays and Tourism Society (KHATS) president M P Sivadathan said the presence of unclassified homestays has left a dent on the tourism industry’s image. “Only those residential homestays that have the tourism department’s classification certificates as per rules revised via the government order in 2020 should be allowed to put up ‘homestay’ boards. Also, only classified homestays should be allowed to market their facilities both inside and outside the country,” said Sivadathan.
“More than 1,000 homestays are functioning in empty residential buildings or houses taken on lease with just a licence obtained from the local self-government bodies,” he said. “To aid the industry, the government had recently done away with the no-objection certificate. But now we have to submit the ownership and residence certificates. That is okay. But problems crop up when we approach the local bodies for the certificates. They ask us to present the plan of the house including of the room in which tourists will be accommodated,” he said.
“When we say the LSGs have the blueprints of the houses already, the authorities reply that it won’t work since the room is not specifically earmarked,” he said. According to him, the homestay owners are forced to seek the service of licensed architects or civil engineers to draw the new plan.
“Here comes an unwanted expenditure. The engineer won’t draw a plan without a fee that comes to around 10% of the cost of the house,” said Kosygin Andrews, owner of Aqualillies Water Front Heritage Homestay, Kumarakom. The KHATS has sent a representation to the tourism minister seeking to resolve the problem.