PETALING JAYA: The year-end holiday season is here and it’s not just hotels that are seeing a rise in customers. Camping is hot, too.
Many Malaysian camping site operators say their premises have been seeing a steady increase in bookings.
“There is currently an increase in demand for camping activities. We are always fully booked on weekends,” said Kem Anugerah Alam marketing manager Muhd Munzir Mustapha.
He said his premises are always full during festive seasons and school holidays, adding that the company took safety measures very seriously, especially during the current rainy season.
“Bookings may fall slightly due to the monsoon but we can assure visitors that our site is safe,” said Muhd Munzir, whose camp is located near Sungai Batangsi in Semenyih, Selangor. He said his site adhered to guidelines set by the government on safety, sustainability and convenience.
The guidelines were prepared following the tragedy in Batang Kali where 31 people were killed near a camping site during a landslide in December last year.
Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming has said it will take effect next year.
According to a draft of the Campsite Planning Guidelines uploaded to PLANMalaysia’s social media, there are two categories of camping sites – conventional and premium.
For conventional sites, only makeshift tents are used while premium sites feature fixed tents that are equipped with various facilities. The sites can be located at beaches, rivers, lakes and highlands.
They must have toilets and Muslim prayer rooms at both sites. Conventional camping sites should have a cooking area while the premium sites will have cafes.
Hulu Selangor Campsite Owners Group president Mohamed Taufik Omar said several engagements were organised between campsite operators and authorities on the guidelines and requirements.
“Some of the topics discussed include the buffer zone from a river bank to the campsite, which was shortened from 20m to 10m,” he said.
He also noted that some campsites have been almost fully booked up to next year’s Chinese New Year and Hari Raya celebrations in February and June respectively.
D’Sahom Survival Camp Site operator Shaharun Johari said he would inform his guests on weather conditions prior to their arrival. If the visitors decided to proceed with camping despite unfavourable weather, they would not be allowed to have any water activities at the river.
“They can postpone their trip if they prefer. If not, we will advise them to avoid the river,” said the owner of a campsite in Kampar, Perak.
Homestay bookings are also close to pre-Covid-19 levels, said Datuk Sahariman Hamdan, the Malaysia Homestay Association president.
“The numbers are fast increasing and we may even exceed our pre-pandemic numbers,” he said, adding that some 600,000 visitors were targeted for 2023.
In 2022, there were 563,901 visitors at homestays.
Sahariman also said association members placed safety as the biggest priority, especially during the current northeast monsoon season.
“For example, if there are water activities planned and the weather turns bad, we will inform our guests that there are indoor activities instead.
“Safety briefings are also conducted prior to any activity,” he said, advising the public to check with respective homestays if there are floods reported in the area.
“Sometimes, customers want to cancel bookings when they see a viral video of floods around the homestay areas. In this situation, always check with the homestay operators on the real situation as the videos may be from another time,” Sahariman added.