Nepal’s diverse population with equally varying traditional and cultural approaches can best be explored with trekking. Interaction with the local population to learn about their lifestyle and enjoy age old traditions best fits the equation when travellers can live together with the local people. Homestay tourism in Nepal is best suited for this purpose.
Introduced by the Nepal Government in 2011, homestay tourism was purposive in providing lodging to the one million tourists that were expected to arrive in the country that year. In such a situation, the scarcity of proper shelter would have been mayhem. Thus to subside with this catastrophe, homestays were highly prioritised as this was the best alternative to building the infrastructure quickly and efficiently instead of investing in separate lodges.
How to set up a homestay?
To setup a homestay, villagers need to make some basic changes to toilet and bathroom facilities besides other decorations and reconstructions. This does not need much time to accomplish and also puts less economic burden on villagers to build up the infrastructure. Thus, the classical trend of exploring Nepal by staying in lodges or camping on open grounds was much substituted by homestays. This essentially opened doors to many interesting destinations in the country that lacked lodging facilities. Trekking in Nepal also saw a new approach to introduce Nepal and Nepalese culture to the world in the most suitable fashion.
Sirubari in Syangja and Ghalegaon in Lamjung were the first places to start this kind of approach to trekking. Later, other places like Kathmandu, Kavrepalanchow, Chitwan, Makwanpur, Gorkha, Ilam, Palpa, Kailali, Kalikot, and Nuwakot started to facilitate visitors with homestays.
Due to close connection with the local population, visitors get a better insight of the local livelihood and often become ambassadors of the place to welcome other visitors from their country. This kind of plan is also suitable for backpackers as they can explore more of the Himalayan country with limited budget as fooding, and lodging is relatively cheaper in homestays. This also promotes the use of local resources and forms a major element of eco-tourism.
Type of homestay in Nepal: Community and private homestay
Community home-stays and private home-stays are two forms adopted in Nepal which represent the usage of either the community building or private houses to provide shelter. Normally, bed and breakfast are provided in home-stays, with meals upon request. Meals are prepared from locally available vegetables and livestock.
Homestay trekking facilitates the local families to earn by working at their homes, and at the same time allows tourists to enjoy the hospitality of the local people, while learning and exchanging cultural elements. Many Nepalese youths have preferred working for homestays instead of migrating to foreign countries to earn a livelihood. This has empowered youths in participating and forming local plans and policies and has helped them to contribute for the national economy as well. These days, the idea of homestay has even grown to urban areas contrary to the initial motive of the program. However, every form of homestay is beneficial in the same manner that the initial program aimed for.