For Games, Delhi urgently seeks rooms with a view

March 2nd, 2009 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) A comfy bed with clean linen, neat and spacious rooms, an attached bathroom and a mini fridge thrown in. This is not the classified description of a holiday resort but what the Delhi government is desperately seeking from residents with spare rooms ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The government is leaving no stone unturned to find accommodation options for the tens of thousands of tourists expected to throng the capital in the months before and during the Games. In the past month alone the government has gone all out to advertise and promote home stays and bed and breakfasts. The urgency is apparent.

“Resident welfare associations have been roped in to promote the concept, door-to-door campaigning with pamphlets and promotional material is rampant and the scheme is even being advertised in newspapers and bus kiosks,” Kulanand Joshi, general manager, Delhi Tourism, told IANS.

Under the Bed and Breakfast Establishments (Registration & Regulation) Act 2007, the department is targeting at least 3,000 rooms, of which 800 have been registered so far.

With barely 20 months remaining for the Games scheduled for Oct 3-14, 2010, the government is struggling to close the gap of 2,200 rooms.

“It is a comprehensive strategy in the national capital region. Residential owners can apply via a form to provide bed and breakfast facility in a minimum of two and maximum of five rooms,” Joshi said.

Recently when Sumitra Mukherjee, a resident of a south Delhi apartment complex, found a promotional pamphlet at her doorstep, she was pleasantly surprised.

“I think it’s a very interesting idea. It’s going to be lots of people and not enough rooms…I have a young child so I am not in a position to open my house as a home stay, but there are plenty of people who don’t have such concerns and have spare rooms who can do this,” Mukherjee, a media writer and photographer, told IANS.

The establishments registered so far are listed on the Delhi tourism department’s website, delhitourism.nic.in, with accommodation and contact details.

On contacting and visiting several of the bed and breakfast establishments enlisted, IANS found them to be quite posh and good quality accommodations - the rates were not tough on pockets either.

“This is because we follow a series of checks with respect to cleanliness, amenities, ambience and so on at the applying residential properties before giving them the licence. Some things regarding basic amenities and quality control are mandatory while some criteria for decor and ambience is not,” Joshi explained.

The only difference between a low-cost hotel and these establishments is that under the bed and breakfast scheme the owner must reside within the property.

A comfortable double-bed accommodation with breakfast could cost between Rs.1,100 and Rs.2,500 at ’silver’ rated (120 square feet) accommodations and between Rs.3,000 and Rs.5,000 at ‘gold’ rated (200 square feet) accommodations.

At present the rates are decided not by the government but by the owners. The owners appeared rather happy with this arrangement.

Uttara Mazumdar, a schoolteacher, runs one such accommodation in Chittaranjan Park in south Delhi.

“It’s good that the government doesn’t interfere much in fixing rates and all. The place just needs to be neat and clean, have some pre-determined amenities and a comfortable ambience to get the government’s seal for the licence. After that it’s a good way to build up a steady income,” Mazumdar told IANS.

There are other incentives for residents too. Owners don’t have to pay luxury tax and can use civic amenities like water and electricity at domestic, not commercial, rates.

There is a one-time registration fee of Rs.3,000 to Rs.5,000. After that the owners just have to keep their premises prim and proper for any “surprise checks”.

With Delhi Tourism going all-out to encourage residents to extend “a little hospitality” on their part, the question is how many people with spare rooms will embrace the government’s scheme and welcome the 2010 Commonwealth Games visitors.

(Shweta Srinivasan can be contacted at shweta.s@ians.in)

-Indo-Asian News Service

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