Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bed&break scheme Ready for 2010 Games

Bed&break scheme Ready for 2010 GamesIn a span of little over a year, getting more than 950 rooms registered under the bed and breakfast scheme in NCR may be quite an achievement for the government, which is eying 10,000 additional rooms to accommodate tourists during 2010 Commonwealth Games . However, lack of publicity and marketing seems to be marring the business prospects.

Ministry of tourism's notification of this liberal scheme has received a good response with requests coming from all categories of colonies in the NCR from Golf Links to Paschim Vihar and from Gurgaon to Ghaziabad. The scheme has become popular as it holds the promise of generating `good' money for all those who have extra rooms to be used as "hotel rooms''.

Until recently, before the Mumbai mayhem which dented tourism-related business across the country, such accommodation located in upmarket areas had been getting enough guests, but the ones coming up in areas like Ganesh Nagar, Paschim Vihar and Janakpuri had been finding it difficult to get clients. Those who maintain that the scheme is `wonderfully' viable mention categorically that they get business because of word of mouth.

The families, who let out extra rooms in their homes to tourists, say they love the experience of hosting guests from a different country and culture. And the parting notes of visitors to these families also suggest that most guests have a memorable stay in the Indian household.

"We have made the rooms for hosting the tourists at our residence. But we also need proper marketing and publicity. How do we tell the tourists that we have rooms available for them?'' asked Sunil Narula, who offers two Gold-Class rooms in Connaught Place.

He pointed out how it was difficult for those who operate from far-off areas. There are `entrepreneurs' like Narula and Rashmi Ahuja of Golf Links, who have five such rooms, run their own portals to connect to the potential clients. "At the end of the day a smiling client revisits and brings more business. We don't advertise,'' Rashmi said.

Though the ministry of tourism has put up the addresses and phone numbers of such rooms on its website but when TOI called up, many were found either to be wrong numbers or none in that name was staying there.

Pawan Vaish, who has spared two rooms in his bungalow at the Jain Mandir Marg, said, "We had got the permission for hosting tourists in April this year and we got our first guests in the same month. But since then, we have just been depending on word-of-mouth publicity.'' He added the scheme hadn't been a total success. "The government should recognize at least the prime locations and market them,'' Vaish said.

Moreover, amid this mad rush to allow all and sundry, there have been words of caution for the tourism department too. "They must be selective about the homes and the person, who manages the task. In a small flat, keeping one room out of three for tourists might not serve the purpose of this scheme,'' Ahuja pointed out.