J&K Govt, OYO Launch Home-Stay Initiative

Jammu- To give a boost to the distressed tourism industry and turn the youth into start-up entrepreneurs in Jammu and Kashmir, hospitality tech firm OYO on Thursday partnered with the J&K administration to launch a rural tourism initiative, 'Crown of Incredible India', across the Union Territory.

Under this collaborative approach, OYO will also partner with the government's 'Mission Youth' programme to open homestays across 75 villages to promote entrepreneurship and create self-employment opportunities, officials said.

''The J&K government and...OYO Group launched rural homestay under project 'Crown of Incredible India' to encourage micro-entrepreneurs in the villages. It will revitalise local art and crafts and redevelopment of rural areas,'' a senior official said.

J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who launched the initiative along with OYO founder and Group CEO Ritesh Agarwal at Raj Bhawan here, said, ''Rural homestays in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra have started to rival conventional tourism. Having the most beautiful locales in the country, J&K is determined to catch up. This partnership marks the start of a new chapter.'' He said that OYO has made a great start to onboard J&K's rural homestays on their platform.

''Our mission youth department has identified 75 villages under the tourist village network. They will partner with OYO, not just to generate jobs, but to improve the local economy and infrastructure.

''Those youth in this programme, who want to start their homestays, we will support them through an incentive of Rs 50,000 each,'' Sinha said.

He further added that J&K is today the 6th largest tourist destination in India in terms of tourist influx and has created both jobs and revenue.

''In August-November 2021, J&K witnessed 52 lakh tourists, which is growing by the day.

''With this project, OYO plans to start with 20 homestays immediately of which 10 are already live. OYO will ensure that 200 of our homestays are on their platform by December,'' he said.

Sinha added that this will provide both national and international tourists, the opportunity to experience and live the culture and tradition of JK. ''We will be able to create the most well developed rural tourism circuit,'' he said.

OYO founder and Group CEO Ritesh Agarwal said, ''We, at OYO, are thrilled to be a part of the unique tourism opportunities in Jammu & Kashmir, and are excited to welcome travellers visiting the state for unique stay experience at these homestays.'' Agarwal said OYO is proud to extend our partnership with the Jammu & Kashmir government to generate economic and employment opportunities in the district. The 'Crown of Incredible India' will enable socioeconomic development helping people become Atmanirbhar, he added.

''As the country celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, 75 glorious years of progressive India, we at OYO renew our commitment to strengthen tourism for the benefit of local communities,'' the CEO said. OYO in J&K is a key player in the tourism ecosystem and has over 140 hotels and homes creating over 500 direct and indirect employment opportunities.

The J&K tourism village network, under the aegis of 'Mission Youth', will start with 75 villages to boost the local economy by encouraging community entrepreneurship as 200 homestays are planned in one year in Udhampur, Srinagar, Jammu, Anantnag, Doda and other underpenetrated districts.

The Mission Youth initiative of the J&K government provides a platform to the local youth under multiple schemes and it offers financial assistance, last-mile infrastructure and accessibility to promote sustainable livelihood, officials said.

The J&K government under the Mission Youth will support 500 youth for establishing homestay, and Rs 50,000 financial assistance per homestay will be provided for refurbishment. The venture will help in building a tourist infrastructure of world standards in rural J&K, they said.

The homestay owners in Jammu & Kashmir are primarily engaged in agricultural activities making it a key source of their income, they said.

''This includes apple, saffron, corn and walnut cultivation, one of the mainstays of Jammu & Kashmir's economy. Many have had to migrate to cities in search of livelihoods,'' he said.

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