Utilise new media to promote homestay, operators urged

KUCHING: Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has advised homestay operators in the state to fully utilise the new media such as blogs and YouTube to promote their homestay to the world.

“Besides utilising the new ways to market your homestay, you must also ensure that you provide quality service and high standard accommodations,” he said this during his speech when launching Sarawak Homestay Entrepreneurship Workshop at Dewan Pustaka Negeri Sarawak here yesterday.

Abang Johari said homestay operators must also equip themselves with the knowledge of local history and culture to attract tourists’ interests.

He stated that the homestay industry had developed rapidly because of the good response.

“In Sarawak, the number of tourists staying in homestay registered with Ministry of Tourism Malaysia had increased last year from 9,384 in 2010 to 12,618.

“The increasing tourists staying in homestay also generated increased revenue from RM780,000 in 2010 to RM978,000 to the homestay operators last year,” he noted.

He anticipated that there would be an increase in the number of tourists visiting the state, saying this was “because we still have the natural lifestyle and natural environment that other places do not have.”

In an effort to ensure that the homestay operators provide quality service, Abang Johari encouraged the operators to register with the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.

He said that currently there were 27 homestay operators who had registered with the ministry.

“I was made to understand that the 27 homestays were operated by operators of all races so the tourists can experience different cultures during their stay in Sarawak,” he added.

Abang Johari said in order to obtain an update of the number of homestays available in the state, his ministry, together with Ministry of Tourism Malaysia would conduct a survey with the help from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

Meanwhile, he stated that with the commencement of direct flights from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Australia, Bangkok and maybe Jakarta in two years’ time, homestay operators in the state can expect a positive outlook, adding that his ministry is targeting to achieve four million tourist arrivals to the state next year in line with Visit Sarawak Year.

On another matter, Abang Johari said that he would discuss with Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Bumiputera Entrepreneur Development) Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais on the structure of a wholesale consortium on eco-tourism as announced by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

He said there must be coordination between the state Tourism Ministry and Tourism Ministry Malaysia, together with other related agencies when it comes to marketing tourism overseas saying: “maybe this wholesale consortium will become a contact point for the state to market eco-tourism to the world.”

Also present during the launching of the workshop were Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Datu Ik Pahon Joyik,
Ministry of Tourism Malaysia state office director Esther Douglas Udam and Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board state director Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali.

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