01/08/2014

Homestays getting popular with foreign tourists

KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — Homestays are steadily gaining popularity among international tourists, with more opting for such accommodation during their stay in the country. Tourism and Culture Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng said the number had increased by 13 per cent for the first four months of this year to 23,159 people from 20,571 during the same period last year.

“The trend among foreign tourists to stay in homestays registered with the ministry is positive, and more choose to do so as it gives them a chance to experience the lifestyle, culture and food of locals in the rural community,” he said recently. He added that the number of domestic tourists who chose to stay in homestays had also increased by 2.7 per cent for the same period.

“In the four-month period, almost 92,000 domestic tourists chose homestays for their holiday compared with 88,835 last year,” he said. Ong said revenue from homestays for the first four months this year was RM7.3 million compared with RM6.3 million last year, a 15.4 per cent increase.

He said among the homestays, which recorded the highest revenue from January to May this year, were Taman Sedia Homestay, Cameron Highlands with a total income of RM2 million, Ba'kelalan Homestay, Sarawak (RM655,988) and Air Manis Homestay in Sabak Bernam (RM393,207). According to performance records, Taman Sedia Homestay received almost 32,000 international and domestic tourists followed by Ba'kelalan Homestay (2,962) and Air Manis Homestay (1,524), he said.

He said the homestay programme was one of those identified by the ministry to develop rural tourism and the economy of locals. “So far we have 3,486 homestay operators registered with the ministry and 4,834 rooms available,” he added.

Meanwhile, Paya Guring Homestay operator Romlee Hassan said the village concept in an orchard and friendliness of residents in the area of his homestay were among the main attractions for visitors and tourists. “Most of our guests are parents who visit their children in nearby learning institutions and they are excited by the chalet concept we offer, as well as our good services,” he said.

Paya Guring Homestay, which began operations in 2001 and situated four kilometres from Arau, Perlis, uses the social media such as Facebook and blog to promote its services, to tourists, he added. Romlee also admitted that the homestay programme not only increased the income of rural folks, it also provided jobs to youths with skills such as crafts and spa massage. — Bernama


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