Free Press Journal

Rating of B&B accommodations soon



New Delhi: On the suggestion of online hotel aggregator Oyo rooms, the Tourism Ministry has decided to go for rating of homestays, bed-and-breakfast accommodations and certified guesthouses to throw up great opportunity to small establishments to get the market access and help tourists make informed choices from such aggregators.

The Oyo Rooms had approached the ministry to point out that it and also several others in the sector carried out due diligence before putting any homestay on their lists, but there were still regular complaints from customers about a lack of uniformity in services.

About 1,200 homestays across India that have registered for the ministry’s Incredible India scheme are listed as “gold” or “silver” properties based on the facilities they offer. But thousands others, registered with state governments or not registered at all, have not been categorised, officials said. An official from the ministry’s hotel and restaurant division said the idea that a system similar to star ratings of hotels will revolutionise the homestay industry had emerged after consultations between travel industry stakeholders and the Niti Aayog, which periodically reviews the initiatives taken by ministries.

He said the ministry will get the rating mechanism in place within a few months as the homestay or bed-and-breakfast facility is emerging as a favourite with foreigners and domestic budget travellers. More than 434,000 foreigners opted for homestay than any hotels in the first five months of 2016, almost four times the figure from the same period last year.

The Niti Aayog will hold talks with the state governments so that they uniformly apply the parameters that the tourism ministry will work out to rate accommodations. The Niti Aayog has planned a meeting with the states early this month.

Only in June, the Tourism Ministry framed a new set of guidelines with relaxed stringent licensing norms for families with spare accommodation to register as homestay establishments under the bed-and-breakfast scheme in vogue since 2006 and which was improved in 2011 by the UPA government. It is to encourage more households offer accommodations to tourists and help offset the estimated shortfall of 20 lakh hotel rooms in the country.