Karnataka tourism department’s gripe is that most homestays in Kodagu ignore them in the matter of registration. Of the 1000 odd homestays in the coffee district no more than 240 have registered themselves with the tourism dept. For most homestay owners ‘registration’ translates into ‘regulations’ , an annual tax of up to Rs.15,000 , and grading of homestays into ‘silver’ and ‘gold’ class. The state tourism director says homestays registered with them come in for inspection and regulation.
Question is whether tourism dept. registration, or the lack of it, weighs with tour operators. Does registration help homestay owners increase their business ? That three out of every four homestays in Coorg haven’t gone in for registration with the department conveys its own message. The tourism dept. would have us believe that registration ensures upkeep of standards laid down by the department. But then there are well-maintained homestays that are not registered with the dept., says a newspaper report. A report in The Hindu cites manager of a tourist information centre as saying complaints regarding inadequate amenities, poor service, and even harassment of guests have become common, apparently, because of so many unregistered homestays. Doesn’t he mean that unregistered units are suspect ?
I , for one , would like to see The Hindu carrying a follow-up report telling us what homestay owners have to say, and why so many of them in Kodagu haven’t found it necessary to registered their units with the department. Apparently, they are not losing business by staying unregistered. Homestays represent a niche in the hospitality sector, and in Madikeri and its surroundings their numbers make it a highly competitive enterprise. In such business environment you can’t get away with shoddy service. Pleasing tourists with good service plus something about which they talk to friends or write home about is key to staying in the homestay business. The type of tourists who opt for homestay come informed and know enough about what to expect, where , anywhere they travel. Their source of information are varied - homestay websites, Facebook pages, travel blogs, e-groups and other social networking media .
Yoga tourism in Mysore has given rise to a support service system – yoga websites and student blogs - that tells intending visitors to Mysore where to rent rooms in Gokulam and other areas , what to eat , and where to shop, get clothes tailored, rent a bike, and places to avoid. Yoga tourism and those making a living on it do very well without much help (interference) from the tourism dept.