Bright future for homestay programme

(From left) Ahmad Husni, Jonathan Freddy, Yeoh (in blue) and Rohaizat (second right) posing with certificate recipients who are new homestay operators.

THE Malaysia Homestay Experience programme in Penang pulled in revenue of RM64,507 from January till September despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ministry of Tourism, Art & Culture (Motac) Penang director Jonathan Freddy P. Bagang said the amount showed that the homestay industry had great potential and homestays were the choice accommodation for domestic and foreign tourists.

He said that the Malaysia Homestay Experience programme in Penang had 219 operators offering a total 264 rooms.

“The total income generated by the Malaysia Homestay Experience participants in Penang last year was RM455,510.

There were 4,371 tourist arrivals last year, ” Jonathan said.

He was speaking after a certificate presentation ceremony for nine new operators of Kota Aur Homestay, Penaga near Butterworth.

The event was organised by the Penang Motac office and launched by tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin.

Also present were Tourism Malaysia northern region director Ahmad Husni Ahmad Basri and state homestay chairman Rohaizat Othman.

Yeoh in his speech said that the homestay experience programme was launched in 1995 in Temerloh, Pahang.

It was an initiative under the Rural Tourism Master Plan which aimed to increase participation of rural communities in the tourism sector.

“Homestays registered under this programme are not limited to lodging services only.

“Community-based tourism activities such as folk sports and cultural events are also taken into account.

“Premises registered as homestay are houses belonging to the rural communities.

“Most of them are traditional houses that provide a unique experience for tourists to experience the daily lifestyle and culture of villagers.”

Yeoh noted that the main objective of the programme was to meet the needs of two target groups, namely the rural communities and tourists.

“For the villagers, sharing their experiences and culture with tourists encourages more rural participation in the tourism industry.

“The villagers can also increase their income and living standards.

“This in turn will produce tourism entrepreneurs among the villagers, ” he added.

Meanwhile, Rohaizat told reporters that most of the homestays in Penang had their own charm with focus on promoting local village activities.

He said about 70% of the total homestay operators in Penang were women, with the majority of them being in the B40 group.

He said that the homestay business was now being carried out in accordance with the standard operating procedure to contain the spread of the pandemic.

“However, since February, there have been many cancellations, mostly involving foreign tourists, ” he said.

“The industry is currently still accepting mostly domestic tourists and foreigners residing in Malaysia.”

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