With an aim to uplift the lives of local communities and to turn the youths of the State into startup entrepreneurs, OYO has partnered with the Government of Jammu & Kashmir to launch a state-wide initiative – ‘Crown of Incredible India’. OYO is a leading, new age travel-tech platform enabling the global hospitality system. 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.
The Mission Youth initiative of the J&K Government provides a platform to local youth under multiple schemes. It offers financial assistance, last-mile infrastructure and accessibility to promote sustainable livelihood. This initiative includes supporting the provision of Livelihood Generation, Skill Development, Education, Counseling & Rehabilitation, Sports and Recreation etc. In its efforts to promote rural tourism, ‘Tourist village network’ includes 75 villages that have been identified on the parameters of scenic beauty, landscape, cultural diversity &heritage and OYO will provide its tech platform to onboard home stays and boost the local economy. J&K Govt under 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.
The ‘Crown of Incredible India’ project was inaugurated by Shri Manoj Sinha, Honourable Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir and aims to help operationalise upto 200 homestays inUdhampur, Srinagar, Jammu, Anantnag, Doda and other underpenetrated districts in the next year. The company will expand its network across 75 villages under ‘Mission Youth’. OYO will assist in the training of existing and potential homeowners on responsible hosting, hospitality standards, hygiene and basic amenities. OYO will provide a constant stream of guests to these homestays by listing and promoting them on OYO’s customer app, which is the world’s third-highest downloaded travel app. In addition, the homestays will also be listed on OYO’s website and multiple Online Travel Agent (OTA) platforms. The homestays owners will also be able to use OYO’s technology to run the operations and customer service through the company’s simple to use home-owner facing Co-OYO app. This partnership is a part of OYO’s ongoing efforts to boost tourism across India and empower underserved communities in the process.
The homestay owners in Jammu & Kashmir are primarily engaged in agricultural activities making it a key source of their income. 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. OYO’s rural-home-stay initiative will provide a valuable opportunity for these households to generate more income with minimum additional investment.
The concerted efforts made by the government of Jammu and Kashmir have already started showing results, with many private players from India already investing in the Union Territory. The government is also regularly organising summer and winter festivals, exhibitions showcasing local handicrafts, handloom, cuisine, sanctions for ropeway projects, and efforts for new cable car projects at Pahalgam, Shiv Khori and Gulmarg are supporting the local economy.
Shri Manoj Sinha, Honourable Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, said, “Rural homestays in MP, Gujarat, Karnataka, 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. 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, each with their distinct identity. They will partner with OYO, not just to generate jobs, but to improve the local economy and infrastructure. I am announcing that those youth in this program, who want to start their homestays, we will support them through an incentive of Rs 50,000/- each.”
He further added, “Under Hon. PM’s guidance, J&K is today the 6th largest tourist destination in India in terms of tourist influx. It has created both jobs and revenue. In Aug-Nov 2021, the state 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. I am hoping, as committed, Ritesh will ensure that 200 of our homestays are on their platform by December. 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.”
Commenting on the developments, Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & Group CEO, OYO, 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 home-stays. We are 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 socio-economic development helping people become Atmanirbhar. 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 and aim to work together with these entrepreneurs to promote sustainable, responsible travel and homestays that contribute to resilient local economies and support jobs. ”
Since entering Jammu & Kashmir in 2015, OYO has hosted thousands of guests at the hotels on its platform, while ensuring higher earnings for 140+ hotel and home-owners. The company has further created direct and indirect economic opportunities for 500+ people. Many such patrons have started multiple hotels since joining the OYO family.
According to OYO Travelopedia, a travel trend report, in 2022, 61% of Indians would prefer to go local and explore domestic destinations surrounded by nature which is reassuring to boost rural tourism in India. With revenge travel picking up especially among millennials and Gen Z, Jammu & Kashmir is among the favourite destinations in the North. The affordable tariffs for rooms at OYO rural homestays will cater to experiential and immersive travellers. These come with all basic room amenities, great views, and an opportunity for travellers to experience Kashmiri life in its truest form. These home-stay kitchens and dining spaces are stocked with Kashmiri food, including traditional bread – Khambir, local fruits and Kahwa.
The possible additional revenue from each room at a home stay could range from INR 1.2 Lakhs to INR 3.6 Lakhs per annum for the owner.Abdul GaniChopan, a father of three daughters and one son, has been a farmer, selling potatoes and beans from his land to make a living. The option of earning a living by hosting travellers in his home has come as a great opportunity. Abdul has a traditional Kashmiri home, with eight rooms, two of which the family has kept for their own use and the remaining have been onboarded on OYO’s platform. He added, “I’m extremely excited to partner with OYO and I look forward to offering the guests new experiences and giving them a glimpse of the famed Kashmiri hospitality. I thank the OYO team for its efficiency and responsiveness throughout the onboarding process. I look forward to a successful and long-lasting relationship with the company.”
OYO will apply some of the learnings it gained from a rural homestay initiative it started in Kevadia, Gujarat. OYO currently has 10 live homestays in Kevadia and 20 more in the pipeline.
Customers choose OYO’s platform for many reasons, including unique inventory and availability of storefronts, quality of accommodation, the price competitiveness of its offerings, ease of use of its app, personalization, the trust and safety of the OYO platform and the quality of its Customer support through Yo! Chat, end-to-end proprietary Customer support platform. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, OYO has offered industry best practices to help its patrons (hotel & home-stay owners) implement the cleaning process, including an enhanced cleaning protocol, checklists, and displaying the COVID-19 vaccination status of its Patrons’ staff in India on its mobile application through its “VaccinAid” filter.