It was during Nepal Tourism Year 2011 that the idea of launching homestay programs was put forward by the Nepal Tourism Board, which was pretty confident of a dramatic increase in the number of tourist arrivals for whom more accommodation facilities had to be prepared. Alongside, homestay programs would involve people from all walks of life in all corners of the country, and make tourism a more all-encompassing, comprehensive industry. ‘Tourism for all’ was the new battle cry. In other words, the aim of homestay programs was to engage the participation of more of the populace in tourism-related activities, besides augmenting their income, as well.
About Rs.30 million was spent by the board on training those who were interested in participating in the homestay program. The board’s efforts resulted in the development of two types of homestays: private homestays and community homestays. In most cases, village development committees, district development committees, local co-operatives, and some NGOs (cultural exchange programs, volunteerism) manage the programs. A set of rules and regulations were devised.
All participating families have to register with their local homestay management committee, and they have to follow some very stringent guidelines, which emphasize cleanliness, hygiene, well furnished rooms, adequate services, and security. An added responsibility is that, participating families have to give their guests a taste of the local culture and cuisine. The families are serve whatever food they themselves eat daily to their guests. As far as rates and other charges are concerned, they are set by the respective management committees.
There are rules also for the guests, who are asked to dress appropriately, and requested to promote the culture and tradition that they have experienced. Guests are furthermore advised to enter and leave their ‘home’ within the given times. Drug use is, of course, totally prohibited.
The first two villages to adopt homestay programs were Sirubari and Ghalegaon; they were followed in rapid succession by many others.
The program has been a successful one, and now you can avail of homestays in many districts, including Bagmati, Chitwan, Makwanpur, Gorkha, Palpa, Kavrepalanchok, Ilam, Syangja, Kailali, Kalikot, etc., with some having more than a dozen or so homestays. Homestays are an excellent means of providing tourists a better local experience, giving them a chance to learn about local culture and lifestyle firsthand, and so is popular worldwide. Here, homestays are mostly based in rural areas, where life moves on at an uninterrupted and leisurely pace, and so provides tourists a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life.