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Quake-destroyed homestays reopen after reconstruction

Gorkha, November 18, 2016: The 17 homestays that were flattened by last year’s devastating earthquake at its epicentre, Barpak village in Gorkha district, have been rebuilt.

Pur Bahadur Ghale, treasurer of the Barpak Homestay Management Committee, said that five of them had even resumed operations. “The rest are getting ready to reopen soon.” He added that the homestays reopened their doors after undergoing necessary reconstruction. “Five homestays have already started receiving guests.”

Almost 95 percent of the houses in Barpak, a picturesque hilltop community situated at an elevation of 1,900 metres above sea level, were turned into rubble by the tremor.

Government statistics show that 344 homestays in different parts of the country were damaged by the earthquake, resulting in an estimated loss of Rs17.2 million. Hosmaya Ghale, a local homestay operator, said that she had spent Rs1.3 million on the reconstruction.

Homestay is a popular form of ‘better quality lower cost’ accommodation where visitors stay in the house of a local.

Living in a Nepali village as a homestay guest is one of the fastest and best ways to know the real Nepal. Daily cultural activities are major attractions of the scheme.

The number of hotels and homestays in Barpak has increased after the earthquake. However, operators who have invested in the hospitality sector are worried about receiving adequate numbers of visitors after the earthquake. Homestays in Barpak started in 2010 led by Seven Sisters, a local women’s group.

“Just as we started promoting this unique system of accommodation, the earthquake shattered our hopes,” said Til Kumari Ghale, another homestay operator at Barpak-5. “We are again ready to host visitors.”

In 2011, the Nepal Tourism Year campaign heralded the start of a new kind of hospitality service in the tourism sector. According to a survey conducted by Nepal Rastra Bank last year, homestays have had a positive impact on the environment and improved the quality of people’s lives.

The study titled Dallagaon Homestay and Its Sustainability, which was conducted in Bardia district, states that the service greatly helped to create awareness about health, education, income, social harmony and women empowerment in rural areas.

For example, prior to the launch of the homestay programme, Dallagaon village was very dirty. Residents would throw garbage on the streets. After the homestay programme was implemented, the picture has changed. Waste paper and plastics are put in dustbins.

Similarly, the rise in homestay activities has boosted sales of local agro products in the village, thus benefiting the entire community, the study report said.