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State provides Rs 1.5L incentive to registered homestays

Kolkata: The state Tourism department has started providing incentive worth Rs 1.5 lakh to each of the registered homestays across the state for upgradation of their infrastructure. The move has turned a boon for the 700 odd homestay owners, whose businesses were badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

"We have laid a lot of emphasis on the development of homestay tourism in the state. We want more and more homestays to register themselves in the department's website so that they can avail facilities of the incentive. A minimum of 3 rooms is a pre-condition for availing the incentive. The funds cannot be utilised for setting up a new homestay," state Tourism minister Goutam Deb said.

The disbursement of funds has already started. It is being provided in three instalments of Rs 50,000 each.

"We are presently processing 10,000 applications of registration for homestays from all parts of the state. Once a homestay gets registered with us, we put the name, contact number and location of the same on our website and the chances of the facility getting booked increases automatically," a senior official of the department said.

As per the stringent pre-condition for registration, the owner has to stay in the particular facility. The registration process for homestays has been streamlined in order to fast track the process. Now, a homestay owner has to apply for registration directly to the District Magistrate, who conducts an enquiry and provides registration.

The DM then puts its name and details in a designated portal of the Tourism department and the incentive is disbursed. Previously, applications were made with the MD of the department who then forwarded it to the DM following which a 3-member team used to conduct enquiry. The process was time

consuming.

The minister said logjams caused by land issues—that were affecting some homestays—have also been cleared recently as he took up the matter with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Though most of the homestays are located in North Bengal presently, a good number are coming up in tourist spots in south Bengal including Sunderbans. Applications have also been received for homestays in Central Kolkata too.

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