Homestays keep former migrants in Nepal, Mukesh Pokhrel
While other homestay programs in the network are slowly gaining traction, at the flagship chapter in Panauti, business is booming. Once unsure of how to act around visitors, women homestay managers now confidently greet tourists in trekking outfits, arriving from destinations as diverse as Denmark and Japan.
The Panauti chapter has 17 families and Amatya is current community president. Demand is so great that they have to turn away new members.
“As much as we want to let everyone be a part of the homestay network, we have to consider whether they would be a good fit to host guests,” she explains. “We have to be stricter with our standards, and to continue having guests leave satisfied, we have to limit membership.”
Those high standards are not the only reason why the Panauti program is thriving. It is also the charm of this historical Newa town with its melange of lifestyles, people, cultures and festivals, located at the intersection of urban and rural life in Nepal.
A well-kept museum with historical and cultural artefacts is walking distance from a river where ducks paddle away the day. Guests can take a five-hour hike through up-country Tamang villages led by a local guide, enjoy cultural dance performances, learn about the rich traditions of one of the oldest towns in Nepal and marvel at temples and stupas, while having access to wifi, western-style bathrooms, home cooked meals and cafes.