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J&K, OYO to promote entrepreneurship with homestays under ‘Crown of Incredible India’

Friday, February 11, 2022, 15:46 Hrs  [IST]
HBI Staff | Hyderabad

In order to encourage entrepreneurship among the youth of the state, OYO has partnered with the Government of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K to launch a state-wide initiative - ‘Crown of Incredible India’. As part of this, OYO will also partner with the government’s ‘Mission Youth’ programme to open home stays 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 home stay and INR 50,000 financial assistance per home stay 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 Manoj Sinha, Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir and aims to help operationalise up to 200 home stays in Udhampur, Srinagar, Jammu, Anantnag, Doda and other underpenetrated districts in the next year. The project 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 home stays 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) platform. 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.

Commenting on this, Sinha 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 INR 50,000/- each.”

He 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.

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.

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