NEW DELHI (TIP): To give e-tourism a boost, the commerce ministry is pushing for developing a database of certified guest houses, paying guest and bed-and-breakfast accommodation across the country that online market aggregators like Airbnb and Stayzilla can use, after doing their own due diligence.
The ministry has asked the NITI Aayog to anchor the plan and develop a rating system after discussions with state governments.
A commerce ministry official said that for back-end certification of properties on their platforms, online aggregators have to work with state governments. “If the state governments have not done the survey and certification, then it is far more difficult for the market aggregators. They can do it for select cities, but if you want to do it pan-India, then we need to develop a rating mechanism,” he added.
Currently, a homestay requires a licence from the state government, which is valid for two years and needs renewal thereafter. It also mandates the hosts to reside at the property being rented out.
The official said the idea emanated from consultations with stakeholders as part of the commerce ministry’s global exhibition on services. “For hotels, the rating system is quite well known, but for accommodations other than hotels, such as bed-and-breakfasts, guest houses, paying guest accommodation, there has to be some mechanism that needs to be developed. So, all this is meant to make India ready for e-tourism,” he said.
After consultations with state governments carried out by NITI Aayog, the ministry of tourism will work out the parameters so that state governments take a uniform approach, the official said.
“If we develop a rating system in sync with international practices, then when somebody claims I am providing a three-star accommodation, then the traveller broadly understands what to expect,” he added.
The official said the exercise is similar to what the government has done for medical tourism. “The Services Export Promotion Council now has a mechanism by which various hospitals have got their accreditation done, so anybody who is a medical value traveller to India for some particular treatment knows the ratings of the hospitals and has some quality assurance,” he said.