Homestay Program: Strengthening rural tourism-A A +A
A Walk in the Park
Friday, April 11, 2014
THERE’S an interesting thrust to maximize the tourism potentials of rural areas which cannot take in as much tourists and guests because of lack of hotels and pension houses.
Homestay Philippines partnered with the Department of Tourism and local government units around the country to launch the “homestay accommodation” in these areas.
Provincial tourism officer Cristine Mansinares said the “homestay concept” was inspired by the tourist accommodations of Paradores of Spain and the Pousadas of Portugal. It was one of the thrusts discussed in the 4th Community-Based Rural Tourism National Conference held in Bacolod last Feb. 25 to 27.
Homestay is a living arrangement with a host family or organization which offers extra private room or space for an out-of-town guest for a reasonable rate.
A room in a house, the whole house, apartment, condominium, campsite, and a restored cultural or historical site can qualify as homestay accommodation.
The host family or organization is expected to extend the world-renowned Filipino warmth and hospitality, provide clean and well-lighted rooms with basic amenities, ensure guest’s safety and security, and comply with the quality set forth by Homestay Philippines Services Cooperative (HPSC).
The roles of the HPSC are to match guests and host family, provide advice and financial assistance, conduct site inspection as well as training and monitoring.
Mansinares said the homestay concept begun earning acceptance in the Philippines in 2011.
The homestay program allows guests to learn the lifestyle and culture of the community, and it can further provide income and job opportunities to the local residents, she said.
This year, it is being introduced in Negros Occidental. Rapha Valley, an organic farm tourism site in Don Salvador Benedicto, has applied for accreditation with HPSC.
To assess its facilities, HPSC inspected the Rapha Valley site, owned by Dr. Albert Jo, last February.
Mansinares said Rapha Valley qualified for the homestay program thus the validation and launching was set last April 4, attended by Cynthia Lazo, director of the Department of Tourism, and Dr. Mina Gabor, president and chief executive officer of Homestay Philippines.
Rapha Valley is now the first homestay facility in Negros Occidental.
Mansinares said the Peñalosa Farms and May’s Organic Garden and other organic farm sites in Negros Occidental are also applying for homestay programs.
The homestay program further promotes the Negrense lifestyle and culture thereby strengthening the tourism potentials of the province, Mansinares added.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 11, 2014.