Atithi devo bhava
Come Dasara and Mysore will be choc-A-block with lakhs of tourists descending upon the city. The heritage city which has bee the hotbed of tourism in the State has only about 4,000-5,000 hotel rooms available in the town and across various classes These numbers, put against the staggering 10 lakh visitors who witnessed Dasara last year seem grossly short of the demand. The Tourism Department anticipates a significant rise in the number of visitors for this Dasara, but it helps when it comes to creating good facilities for them. In an effort to further citizens’ participation in promoting tourism, the State Tourism Department has been encouraging people to set up home stay facilities in their houses. Taking a cue from the age old saying of ‘Atithi Devo Bava’ (guest is God), the department has been wooing citizens in the ever complacent Mysore to open their doors for tourists who throng the city from all over the world. After tasting astounding success for the concept in Kodagu, Chikmagalore and other places where coffee planters opened their doors for tourists allowing them to taste local cuisine and hospitality, the concept was introduced in Mysore a few years ago. Though there has been a significant rise in the number of people who want to run “Home Stay” facilities in their houses, the pace of progress has left much to be desired. This Dasara about 35 landlords have evinced interest in entertaining Indian and foreign guests in their houses or facilities. “We are all for it. And we do agree home stay is a very lucrative option to earn extra income. Our facilities are in absolute demand during Dasara. But we do need encouragement from the Department during other times too. After all operational costs are high, “say most of the owners. T Suguna, who returned with her husband after two decades of living abroad, runs Hill View Farms in the outskirts of the city. She is happy with the intervention of the government in promoting the concept. “It validates our efforts and provides confidence to the tourists as well,” she says. The scenic back drop of Chamundi Hills with food prepared from organic vegetables grown in the farm is her USP.
Premchand Roychand and Sons, known as PRS Calm, have a double whammy for tourists with Chamundi Hills on one side and the magnificent Lalita Mahal Palace on the other side. The have opened the space since last year “The atmosphere here is warm and tourist friendly. Hence it has been an instant hit among Indians and foreigners alike. The concept it catching up well, “says P K Suraj of PRS Calm. On the contrary, the ‘stay’ is not mere ‘taste the slice of local life anymore. The concept has undergone cycles of changes with these home stay facilities equipping themselves with swimming pools, air conditioners, well appointed rooms (sans the room service) and picturesque interiors that seem like they are straight out of a five star facility. Rates are almost there too. They cost any where between Rs. 2,500 and 5,000 per room/day. Of course with complimentary breakfast. They even offer/ facilitate taxis and package tours. However, there is an absolute ban on alcohol consumption in the premises.
The department has categorized home stay in Mysore according to the facilities offered. Landlords interested in running the facility need to contact the department. Police verification later, the owner is all set to begin category one predominantly has more ‘uppity’ and business class facilities. The facility should have two bedrooms (or more) to begin with. Food must be prepared at home. Generators are optional. Cooking facilities are a must the whole place must have lots of breathing space and should be litter-free. No mosquitoes, of course! Category two is for people from the middle class.
Dr . Somashekar, director, Tourism Department says the department will ramp up to publicise the concept in the coming years.”Policy approval regarding the home stay was given just a few months ago. As of now, even within the limitations, we have done well. Coming years will only make it better in terms of the number of home stay facilities, organized publicity, support and enriching experience for tourists”