Kochi: Exploring new options to meet the growing demand for room space in God`s Own Country, the Kerala tourism department has launched a new initiative - serviced villas.
The serviced villas will be independent, furnished homes preferably built in Kerala architecture style. The villas will have a minimum of one room and maximum of six rooms or 12 beds for guests besides a well equipped kitchen with a cook well versed in Kerala cuisine and a qualified person who can speak English.
"The new scheme will increase accommodation options in the state and is aimed at providing comfortable stay facilities of standardised high quality to visitors and
supplement accommodation availability," Tourism Director M Sivasankar said.
"The aim is to provide affordable accommodation at various destinations. Apart from providing a clean and affordable place of stay for tourists, villas will offer a
never before opportunity to experience authentic Kerala at its best," he said.
Lot of enquiries have poured in for the scheme from Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Pathnamthitta, Wayanad and Idukki.
This scheme is different from homestays as the property owner need not stay in the house.
"In home stays, the main regulation is that owners or their relatives should stay in the property." A five-member apex committee, appointed by the Department of Tourism, will approve the establishment and oversee the implementation of the scheme. A fee for approval or renewal of the service villas is Rs 2,500.
The tourism department has also started 11 units under `Vazhyoram` project, which envisages development of quality wayside facilities throughout the state with private sector participation.
Refreshment centres, toilets, parking facilities can be provided by those having landed property on national highways and main roads under the project. Three more are likely to be started this year.
Kerala Tourism is expecting an increase of 10 per cent in tourist arrivals this year -- both domestic and international -- tourism department sources told reporters
As per provisional figures of 2009, about 5.48 lakh foreign tourists visited the state last year, while domestic visitors were 77.89 lakh.
"Presently, there is need for another 10,000 good quality rooms in the state," the sources said.
There are about 1500 rooms in unclassified hotels and about 429 homestays.