Morung Express News
Kohima | November 14
Savino and Yaleto Yhokha, a couple with four children were introduced to the idea of Homestays when they first moved to Kipfüzha, Kigwema in 2012. Their Homestay called Japfü Homestay began with three rooms to spare for tourists in 2012.
“It is going to be seven years now. We now have eight rooms available for tourists including dormitories. Through this Homestay business, we were able to build and upgrade our house. We are able to meet our needs and more,” says Savino.
With growing tourism in Nagaland also comes the problem of accommodations, which is where the trend of Homestays is gradually emerging in Nagaland today. Kipfüzha, the newly developed area of Kigwema village is a case in point for the success of Homestays in Kohima. Situated in the foothill of Mt. Shürho and surrounded by the Japfü Christian College and Dimori Cove resort, residents of Kipfüzha has in recent years flourished through the business of Homestays and growing tourism. The area has around 13 Homestays with the Hornbill festival and spring season being the most viable seasons for these Homestays.
Nino Zhasa, Tour Operator and Explore Nagaland Founder, is one of the first few to initiate Homestays in Nagaland where she first started Greenwood Villa Homestay in 2010 at Kipfüzha. Witnessing the potential growth of Homestays in the area with its close proximity to the Hornbill Festival, Dzükou valley and Mt. Japfü, Zhasa initiated the idea to a few locals who gradually began similar endeavours the following years.
Bookings for Hornbill festival in these Homestays starts as early as July or August. Apart from Hornbill festival, trekking Dzükou valley is now a popular trend for tourists. The Homestays also rely on networking business of tour guides and cab drivers/owners.
Savino is of the view that the growing tourism is highly beneficial for the villagers as many of the youth are now pursuing alternative sources of income as tour guides and cab owners/drivers.
Most people running Homestays here are housewives or locals running hostels, informs Zhasa. During winter, most students leave the hostels for the holidays. The hostel owners then convert them into Homestays.
Cedar Homestay, which has completed four years last year, receives about four tourists during the Hornbill Festival, with most preferring to experience the local culture and ambience of the community.
Lalhou’s Homestay situated near the National Highway which has completed six years and earns about two lakhs during the ten day Hornbill Festival. “Most tourists seek secure places and are interested in cultural exchange. They love the local cuisines and the hospitality here,” says Ketelheno Bio at Lalhou’s Homestay.
A major challenge for Homestay owners is access to basic amenities and food items for foreign tourists, which are not readily available in local markets. There is also the problem of irregular electricity.
Another challenge, says Bio, is the expectation of luxury services especially from domestic tourists, given that there are no proper guidelines and regulations.
However, for the owners of Japfü Homestay which has catered mostly to domestic tourists, the problems are few as, “many of them are open to the idea of exploring our local cuisines, so that makes it easier for us to host them.”
Homestays are beneficial for tourists, according to Zhasa, as they provide them more security and convenient access to places they want to explore, besides experiencing the local culture.
“The Homestays have made a positive impact as there is substantial economic benefit and alternative source of livelihood for our people. It is also good exposure for our people here,” says Visi at Cedar Homestay.
Apart from the economy aspect, leaving a positive impression on the tourists is another enriching experience.
“Tourists leave with a positive impression of the Naga Hospitality, diversity of our culture, our unique cuisine and the strong community bonding,” says Bio.
Zhasa is of the view that the Homestays at Kipfüzha, Kigwema has hugely benefitted the locals. “The locals have been able to upgrade themselves. These they have done independently without any assistance from the government. And whatever they are earning, they are putting it back to the community,” remarks Zhasa.