Homestays are becoming popular in Kerala with many neo entrepreneurs jumping in the tourism bandwagon by opening the doors of their estate bungalows, heritage homes, farmhouses and even ordinary homes for tourists.
The state is targetting about 1,500 classified homestays with approximately 5,000 rooms in five years time, Tourism secretary Dr V Venu said.
The Homestays are literally a home away from home, allowing tourists get close to the host family and community.
Tucked away in the misty plantation hills, amidst coconut groves and backwaters, Homestays offers visitors rich and varied experiences of the culture, lifestyles and flavours of the land and the people.
Many who have retired from service take it as a new vocation.
Thankappan Kettarathil, who retired from LIC two years ago, started 'Misty Heights' homestay at Munnar in Idukki district, by letting out three rooms for his guests. About 30 guests from North India have so far been his guests, he said.
Tomy Joseph, who has a eco friendly homestay in Munnar called 'Rosegardens' says he charges about 50 USD a day, which includes breakfast, dinner and sightseeing and lets out his rooms only to foreign tourists.
His wife Rajee's delicious Appams, idlis and Dosas are a hit with the foreigners, he says. Tourists are so fascinated by Indian cooking that they also join her in the kitchen.
The tourists are also treated to fresh vegetables - cabbage, beetroot, beans and banana flowers and stem, which they relish very much, he said.