“You people are like my kids” says Deepa Devi while serving rotis freshly out from chulah (traditional mud oven). We were sitting in her traditional kitchen in a village in Uttarakhand and having dinner. She is 75 yrs old and enjoys talking to her guests from all walks of life and different regions.
To meet increasing needs of the family, Daya Dani, Deepa’s son, preferred to start a homestay rather than doing labour work for additional income. Today, Deepa along with her 2 daughter-in-laws Pushpa and Kamla take care of the food for the guests, Daya manages the logistics and their kids help them with small tasks like clicking pictures for social media, maintaining records etc. on the android phone that family recently bought from the income of the homestay. The whole family together manages the homestay and are very happy to live a life of dignity.
Daya Dani is one amongst many such farmers who were not able to meet their ends with the limited income and have opened the doors of their homes to travelers and are earning well by hosting people and providing them village experience. With support from HOI, Daya is now able to earn more than 2 lac per annum from the homestay. He is happy to have this alternate source of income where his whole family is involved and no one has to go out to work.
And the guests who are visiting them need other services also like transport, guide etc. Guests also want to take back home some locally made handicrafts or organic farm produce. So one homestay provides livelihood to many other people in the community thus strengthening the local economy.
In another world, a young guy Nirmal Rana lost his job in Gurgaon during pandemic. He had recently lost his father too and is the only earning member of the family. He was totally broke financially and emotionally when he got to know of Homestays of India (HOI). After some encouragement Nirmal agreed to open his village home in Dwarahat to guests. Today he is married and is earning a decent amount not only to run his household but he has also saved a good amount for future emergencies.
In a neighbouring village Sunkiya, Pooran Singh is very happy that his eldest son Ajeet Dangwal after completing his graduation is not going to city to do a job and has decided to manage the homestay full time. Pooran decided to start homestay to afford better education for his kids, 5 years back. HOI helped him set up the homestay and now the family is earning more than 4 lac per annum from the homestay.
“To host people in a remote region like Spangmik near Pangong Lake in Ladakh was a far fetched dream when I started my homestay in 2008” says Dolkar. It is more than 15 years now and she is doing so well for herself. Her kids are studying in good collages and she has extended from 2 rooms then to 6 rooms now. She is a confident self depend lady today who is inspiring many people in villages near Pangong lake to open doors for travellers and today when no hotels are allowed in the area, these homestays are the only sustainable option.
Demand for homestays is increasing by the day and industry leaders believe that homestays are the future of travel industry. They provide a sustainable stay option while impacting many people in a very positive way.
We spoke to many hosts running homestays in different regions of India; the family income for all of them has more than doubled after starting a homestay. That has improved the living standard for their families and they are now able to give better education to their kids. And they are happy that they are able to preserve their heritage – the ancestral house, the culture and the crafts. With the financial independence the women have more control over their lives. Youngsters are happy to stay back in their villages and run the show.
“City people want a break from their hectic lives and our village homestays are the perfect answer to that.” says Deepa laughingly.
The positive chain of improving lives of people has begun and there is no looking back!