KUCHING: Local authorities must work together with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry to regulate the operations of homestays and lodging houses in the state.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said homestay and lodging house operators were required to register with the ministry and comply with regulations, such as insuring their premises and registering guests.
However, he said a number of operators had set up homestays or lodging houses without prior registration to cash in on the state’s fast-growing tourism sector.
“Because tourism is growing, I foresee more homestays coming up in the rural areas as well as lodging houses in urban areas. Since the registration of premises is under the local authorities, the councils have to monitor them and work with us.
“If the premises are suitable and meet the requirements, they can operate but we must be strict. Before they become homestays, they must refer to the council and get approval.
“So I have requested the councils to work together with my ministry. There must be coordination on this,” Abang Johari, who is also Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, said.
He was speaking to reporters after meeting PBB councillors from the Kuching South City Council (MBKS), Kuching North City Hall (DBKU) and Padawan Municipal Council.
Abang Johari said there were currently 35 homestay operators registered with the ministry while an estimated 40 operators were still not registered.
He said the unregistered homestays would be blacklisted by the ministry and visitors cautioned that they would be staying there at their own risk.
He added that his ministry would continue to engage the operators to get them to register and comply with regulations.
Abang Johari also called on the councillors to carry out their duties in line with the government’s policies on urbanisation and social and infrastructure development.
For instance, he said MBKS councillors should give priority to developing infrastructure in areas such as Kampung Tabuan and carry out social engagement programmes with the residents.
“We have plans to develop a new housing area with the Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) so that the next generation of residents from Kampung Tabuan can buy affordable housing.
“This will require cooperation between MBKS, LCDA and the Housing Ministry,” he said.
As for DBKU councillors, he said they needed to address the mushrooming of restaurants and ensure that operators comply with the necessary regulations.