KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Homestay Experience programme has won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said winning the prestigious award came as a surprise.
The award recognises the Government's efforts to promote tourism in the rural areas through homestay programmes.
“Our homestay programme has become more popular, with an increase in tourists from 161,561 in 2009 to 213,263 between January and August this year,” said Dr Ng after receiving the award at a presentation ceremony in a hotel here.
The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
The Ulysses Award has been presented annually since 2003 under six different categories including private enterprises, research and technology, creative dissemination of knowledge and lifetime achievement.
The award was received by the ministry's deputy secretary-general Rashidi Hasbullah at a ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey on Nov 15.
Rashidi presented the trophy to the ministry's secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng, who in turn presented it to Dr Ng.
The ministry is encouraging more villagers to sign up for the homestay programme and receive training before being certified.
“So far, 159 villages with 3,424 homes have taken part,” said Dr Ng.
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