The Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office here is stepping up the promotion of homestay program in the bid to lure more tourists to destinations without hotels.
Rina Apostol, DOT regional accreditation officer said on Thursday they recognize homestay as a regular accommodation facility under the ASEAN Homestay Program.
At least five homeowners must agree to offer their homes for a homestay program. The homeowners must presently reside at the house where the tourist will stay, according to Apostol.
Each house must have at least four bedrooms, an uninterrupted water system, clean and orderly, and a peaceful community.
“There is supposedly a family inside that house because the ASEAN Homestay program is also a community immersion program. This allows the guest to be familiar with local cultures and the everyday life of the community,” Apostol said. “Homestay is owned and operated by the local communities so that the economic benefits go directly to them.”
Apostol said that for homeowners who want to join the homestay program, they can avail of the training provided by their agency, which covers costing, packaging, and culinary training.
Presently, there are no standard rates yet for homestay accommodation, but this can be addressed by local governments through a homestay ordinance. “Having a law or ordinance in a locality will help us in the DOT to encourage homeowners to join the program,” said Apostol.
Creating an ordinance on the homestay program is being pushed by Eastern Samar Acting Governor Marcelo Picardal to local government units in Eastern Samar, especially in the capital city of Borongan and towns with active tourism activities such as Guiuan.
“There should be a policy to evaluate homes and communities qualified for homestay program,” Picardal said. “The policy is expected to protect not only the homeowners but tourists as well.”
Based on the ASEAN Homestay Standard, homeowners providing the services must be free from criminal record, in good health condition, and must be a registered homestay provider.
The house should be in good, stable and safe condition and guests are provided with bedroom separate from each other and with a separate bathroom. The house must also have electricity and adequate and clean water supply 24 hours a day.
The person involved in food preparation should practice proper hygiene and be in proper cooking attire, using fresh foods and ingredients, and food must be properly stored. Also considered are solid waste management, sanitation, and landscape in the community.
The homeowner or the community must have people who are trained in first-aid and emergency rescue, especially in areas that offer eco-adventure activities. (PNA)