‘Homestay concept succeeds in alluring huge tourist influx to rural tourist villages’

SRINAGAR-  Located 88 kilometers from Jammu in district Udhampur, ‘Panchari’ a snow capped mountain surrounded by dense cedar forests, is all set to receive and captivate tourists this year with its natural magnificence and grandeur. Many admirers of Panchari compare its scenic beauty and winter snowfall with glabally acclaimed as best destination ‘Gulmarg’.

“Panchari, a fascinating tourist destination abundantly blessed with natural scenic splendour and grandeur, started receiving heavy tourist rush after being declared as the first Tourist Village with Homestay facilities by the J&K government under Tourist Village Development Programme (TVDP).

The construction of vintage huts and creation of other requisite utilities in this picturesque spot has further added to its infrastructural edifice to accommodate the steeply rising tourist influx’.

Notably, the government initiated promotion of homestay tourism in the UT by launching Panchari as the first tourist village with homestay facilities under TVDP. The ambitious programme has the potential to mobilize the diverse geographical and socio-economic landscape of entire Jammu and Kashmir region.

In January of this year, the Anderwali hamlet of Sangerwani village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district was festively adorned. A group of tourists from Pune city in Maharashtra chose this place for a pre-wedding shoot. Yogi, a professional event photographer from Pune, who was part of the group, said that he was astonished with the fascinating natural beauty of the place, stating that he had been there before with his family. He informed his friends, Rohit and Shilpa, about this beautiful place in Pulwama, and they decided to have their pre-wedding shoot there.

Anderwali Sangerwani has recently been designated as a tourist village by the government under the Tourist Village Development Programme to include picturesque places on the tourist map.

The ambitious programme, under the Mission Youth initiative, aims to develop 181 villages that possess distinct features such as scenic beauty, adventurous terrain, art and cultural significance, history and archaeology. It is gaining tremendous momentum with a significant influx of tourists visiting these new destinations. The main objectives of the programme are to develop new tourism destinations that integrate social, cultural, and spiritual characteristics with economic aspects, providing necessary infrastructure for tourists within these selected villages.

The villages included in the programme were selected based on their potential for rural tourism in consultation with the Tourism Department and an expert committee of Mission Youth.

The Tourist Tribal Village Programme (TTVP), initiated by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, is proving to be a game changer for rural and tribal areas, offering economic and social benefits. The scheme promotes rural tourism and generates employment for local youth. For young individuals interested in establishing ventures in the tourism and hospitality service sector, financial assistance of up to Rs 10 lakh is available including Rs 8.50 lakh from a banking partner. Mission Youth J&K provides a special upfront incentive (subsidy) of Rs 1.5 lakh or 15% of the project cost (whichever is minimum), along with a special subsidy of Rs 3.5 lakh towards loan repayment.

Similarly, for development of homestays under the programme, financial assistance of up to Rs 1 lakh is provided including 0.85 lakh from a banking partner. Mission Youth also offers a special upfront incentive of 0.15 lakh or 15% of the project cost (whichever is minimum), 25% of the project cost as an upfront subsidy for women applicants, and a special subsidy of 0.35 lakh towards loan repayment.

Furthermore, the beneficiary must be unemployed and registered with the concerned District Employment and Counselling Centre. This initiative aims to promote home-stays across the UT, strengthen the rural economy, encourage youth entrepreneurship, and provide employment opportunities for women in tourism sector.

The initiative also recognizes the potential of J&K for film shootings and aims to promote filming in the region by offering financial aid to villages for their sustainable development. Despite having significant tourism potential, we are still unable to garner requisite attention due to infrastructural bottlenecks. Destinations which lag behind in sphere of tourism infrastructure, can overcome the downsides by introducing homestays as a means of accommodation facilities for the tourists which do not require heavy investment.



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