KARNATAKA

As traveller hostels gain popularity, Tourism Department readies a policy

Home away from home:Some of the traveller’s hostels in the city. The Tourism Department’s move comes at a time when the number of such hostels in Bengaluru is multiplying, so are the number of their customers.special arrangement

Home away from home:Some of the traveller’s hostels in the city. The Tourism Department’s move comes at a time when the number of such hostels in Bengaluru is multiplying, so are the number of their customers.special arrangement  

A stay for the startup people, one for the backpackers, and one for those who simply want an accommodation that is easy on the wallet; hostels no longer mean drab student accommodations where fights for bathrooms are a way of life. The tourism segment is seeing a wide range of hostels come up in cities such as Bengaluru, and the State government is taking note of it.

Officials in the State’s Tourism Department said talks are on to figure out a way to streamline the segment and bring in some form of rules.

“The process of putting in place a policy for these new hostels has started. There needs to be some regulations, especially in Bengaluru, and a paper is being prepared regarding this,” sources said.

“We have roped in the stakeholders to prepare a policy as hostels cannot just mean cheaper accommodation,” Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge said.

The Tourism Department’s move comes at a time when the number of traveller’s hostels in Bengaluru is multiplying, so are the number of their customers.

Diverse pack

Pratik Kumar, manager of the Social Rehab group of hostels, said their two properties in the city are packed from September to December with 200 to 400 room nights (number of people) a month. With a non-AC dorm costing around Rs. 600 a night, it is no surprise that they have already hosted people of 70 nationalities so far.

“We get a lot of backpackers, artists, startup employees, and students who are on projects or internships. The travellers book a couple of nights, while we have some people, like a choreographer, living here up to a year,” he said.

What hostels offer, which other regular forms of accommodations don’t, he said, was the opportunity to engage with people and make friends.

Rajat Kukreja, founder of Cuckoo Hostel and Commune, said Bengaluru, as a market for hostels, was slightly different from those in, say New Delhi, which primarily had tourists. “Bengaluru is more a transit capital for people to head to places like Mysuru, Hampi, and Goa. Initially we got a lot of travellers, but it has been a mix since,” he said, pointing out how not only were Indian travellers too were opening up to the idea of staying in a hostel, but also how the age group was expanding beyond the usual 18 to 35.

His case in point was a 60-year-old woman from Kolkata, who nearly broke down at first when she learnt that someone had booked her in a hostel. “She visits Bengaluru often as she has property here. Now she has her permanent bed that she insists on every time she returns,” he added.

Though hostel owners say they take the necessary permissions and licences from local civic bodies such as the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and the police, a State policy is being welcomed.

As Mr. Kukreja put it, “The framing of a policy is a very positive development. We are not a paying guest accommodation or a hotel, so we are not exactly under a clear category. A policy will legitimise our existence,” he said.

Recommended for you