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Ladakh betting big on Winter Tourism with new Homestay Policy

In a bid to enhance winter tourism, the Ladakh administration has set the stage for an exciting season by unveiling its much-anticipated “Ladakh Homestay Policy 2023” and finalising arrangements for the renowned Chadar Trek on the frozen Zanskar River.

Ladakh officials revealed that the Homestay policy aims to bolster the rural economy, particularly in border areas, by promoting rural tourism. The five-year policy targets the establishment of 10,000 homestays across the Union Territory, including regions near the Pakistan and Chinese borders. Approximately 5,000 homestays will be situated in protected areas like wildlife sanctuaries, parks, and reserves.

The Department of Tourism is actively encouraging residents to apply for incentives under the policy. A committee will assess applicants based on criteria outlined in the policy, considering factors such as education, professional background, employment status, and giving preference to ex-servicemen or ex-Agniveer.

To meet the preferences of tourists, the policy mandates the installation of flush toilets in homestays, offering eligible applicants a fiscal incentive of 75% of the construction cost, up to INR 1,25,000. New applicants are eligible for an upfront cash benefit of INR 50,000 for repair and maintenance.

Meanwhile, preparations for the Chadar Trek, a famous and adventurous winter activity, are in full swing. A joint team comprising officers from the Civil Administration, Police Department, Border Roads Organisation (BRO), and Tourism Stakeholders’ Associations has been formed to identify the starting and ending points of the trek.

To accommodate ongoing construction for the Nimu-Padum-Darcha Road (NPDR) by the BRO, the administration has decided to relocate the Chadar Trek route. This adjustment aims to minimize disruption to construction while ensuring the safety of trekkers on a truncated route along the Zanskar River.

Kacho Mehboob Ali Khan, Commissioner Secretary (Tourism), Ladakh, emphasised the importance of the Chadar Trek as a vital winter tourist activity lasting about one and a half months in January and February. Despite the challenges posed by construction, efforts are underway to maintain this unique trekking experience, which spans seven days and involves traversing frozen waterfalls, caves, and ice slides along the Zanskar River in the Himalayas.

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