Ladakh admin gears up for winter tourism activities, notifies home stay policy

Jammu: The Union Territory of Ladakh is preparing for winter tourism as the administration has notified much-awaited Homestay policy, besides finalizing the arrangements of Himalayas most cherished Chadar Trek on frozen Zanskar River.

Officials informed a local news gathering agency that Ladakh administration has notified its much-awaited Homestay policy to promote rural tourism, ‘Ladakh Homestay Policy 2023’, which will remain applicable for a period of five years.

The administration has notified the policy to strengthen the rural economy, especially in border areas of Ladakh, they said.

Officials said that administration has set a target to establish at least 10,000 homestays in villages across the UT, including areas close to Pakistan and Chinese borders, to keep the tourism sector active throughout the year, including winters.

Officials said that as many as 5,000 of the total homestays will be established within the protected areas, such as wildlife sanctuaries, parks and reserves.

The Department of Tourism has invited applications from residents for availing incentives.

However, selection of the homestays will be done by a committee constituted at various levels based on criteria given in the policy.

Education, professional background of the applicant and family members, employment status will be considered.

As per policy, preference will be given to ex-servicemen or an ex-Agniveer.

While the traditional Ladakh houses have dry toilets, the administration has learnt through feedback that tourists prefer flush toilet, which has been set as a pre-condition for a homestay.

The eligible applicants will be given a fiscal incentive of 75% of the cost of construction of flush toilets, subject to a limit of Rs 1,25,000.

New applicants will be eligible for upfront cash benefit of Rs 50,000 towards repair and maintenance of furniture, fixtures, kitchen utensils, furnishing among others.

A monitoring committee will do the verification and evaluation for the same. The policy requires the homestay areas to have basic amenities including two mattresses, two quilts, bed sheets, blankets, water purifier, dinner set, etc.

Moreover, the administration also geared up  for holding Himalayas most famous and adventurous Chadar Trek, which seemed impossible earlier due to ongoing construction work for Nimu-Padum-Darcha Road (NPDR) being built by the Border Roads Organisation (Project Yojak).

The officials have constituted a joint team of officers from the Civil Administration, Police Department, BRO, and Tourism Stakeholders’ Associations to identify starting point and ending point of the Chadar Trek.

“This year the administration decided to relocate the route of Chadar Trek to ensure minimal disturbance to ongoing construction works of the NPDR,” said Commissioner Secretary (Tourism), Ladakh, Kacho Mehboob Ali Khan, while reviewing arrangements of the trek with concerned officers.

He said that this will ensure uninterrupted construction work on the NPD Road and at the same time provide safety to trekkers on a truncated route on the Zanskar River.

It was underscored that Chadar Trek is an important winter tourist activity spanning over a period of about one and a half months in the months of January and February and hence efforts are being made to continue with the same.

The trek of the Zanskar river in the Himalayas, which is frozen between January and February, is one of a kind. It takes at least seven days to complete the trek with the trekkers crossing frozen waterfalls, caves and ice slides on the way. (KNO)

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