Puducherry’s Unauthorized Guesthouses: An Increasing Worry

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The Silent Turbulence in Puducherry Tourist Spot

Within the heart of the popular tourist destination, Puducherry, a quiet yet profound transformation is taking place. The proliferation of unauthorized homestays, guest houses, and bed and breakfast centres has become increasingly common, casting a shadow over the area’s peaceful aura. The practices of these establishments, which proudly offer various amenities including party spaces, raise eyebrows as they operate under domestic utility rates and residential property taxes, avoiding commercial scrutiny.

A burgeoning Issue: Unregistered Facilities

The concern goes beyond the mere shift from residential to commercial buildings. It’s evident that Puducherry is experiencing a boom in the construction of properties intended to act as guest houses. Nonetheless, these undertakings tend to elude the obligatory registration procedure, consequently integrating into the underground economy. Their impact permeates online domains, such as Airbnb and Booking.com, where they mesmerize tourists with the promise of a homey experience.

Regulatory Measures: Struggling for Effectiveness

In Puducherry, governing regulations stipulate that for such operations to run legally, permissions must be sought from various government departments. These include the Local Administration, the Police, the Tourism, Fire and Labour departments, as well as the Food Safety division. The 2019 guidelines issued for homestay establishment registration and approval led to 64 filings with 33 licenses issued eventually. This discrepancy reflects the magnitude of unregistered enterprises dominating the arena, significantly outnumbering the legal entities.

The Aftermath: Unfair Competition and Its Ramifications

The wide-reaching effects of this unfettered expansion are becoming increasingly evident. The Pondicherry Hotels Association has voiced its unease regarding the unfair competition exerted by these unregulated entities. In addition to tax evasion, these unauthorized ventures also enjoy the privilege of residential utility rates, generating an imbalanced competition environment. In response to this, local authorities have started to take stringent measures, identifying and investigating properties operating without permits. Plans for conducting a wider survey are in progress to ensure compliance and rein in this escalating issue.

The problem, however, is not confined to the economic realm. The exponential growth of these unregistered centres is causing disruptions such as increased traffic congestions and nuisance to local inhabitants, and potentially putting tourists at risk due to the lack of available grievance mechanisms. The tourist spot, famed for its tranquillity and allure, finds itself at a critical juncture where the delicate equilibrium between progress and control must be maintained.


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