Homestays become top-flight if operators certified — Nazri


IT’S OFFICIAL: Nazri signing a plaque as a symbolic launch of the Kampung Benuk Cultural Centre. Also seen are Ministry of Tourism Sarawak permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik (fourth left) and Kampung Benuk homestay operators Isabell Julau Mejat (third left) and Ewing Senon (second left). — Photos by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: Unregistered homestay operators in the state should be certified under the ‘Homestay Programme’ by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture  to give confidence to tourists who yearn to experience the Sarawakian lifestyle.

To get under the purview of “homestay” in the accommodation industry, said Tourism and Culture minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz, operators must meet criteria set by the ministry to receive certification and gain recognition.

“They (uncertified homestays) are not actually illegal, they are just not recommended by the ministry,” said Nazri who launched the Kampung Benuk Cultural Centre which was completed at a cost of RM440,000 in March 2013.

He also said that with proper certification, the confidence of local and foreign tourists would be high due to the ministry’s monitoring of homestay operators.

BIDAYUH WELCOME: Nazri (third left) and his entourage given a traditional Bidayuh welcome at the Kampung Benuk longhouse yesterday.

Though no action will be taken on uncertified operators since they are legitimate, Nazri said guests at uncertified homestays are actually at risk of getting hoodwinked by unscrupulous operators who demand full price for sub-standard hospitality.

During his visit to Medan Niaga Satok on Saturday, Nazri expressed his admiration for homestay operators who maintained the original or indigenous name of their village or area for their homestay business.

“I noticed Sarawakians have the tendency to maintain traditional names which makes it unique and stands out. This is what it should be, there is no need to attract people with foreign names,” said Nazri.

Meanwhile, Nazri also pledged that Sarawak and Sabah will get special attention from the federal government to heighten the tourism industry in terms of promotion, development and finance.

“Both states are pillars of tourism in Malaysia. Sarawak and Sabah are rich in ethnic and cultural diversity which holds very strong promise as a tourism product,” said Nazri.

TIME TO DANCE: Nazri performing a traditional Bidayuh dance during his visit to the Kampung Benuk longhouse yesterday.

He also said that the usual practice of equal financial distribution to each states is unfair as it ignores the graphical layout and size of Sarawak and Sabah.

“Both states deserve more allocation, the distance from Sarawak to Sabah is also different from Kuala Lumpur to Perlis and Kedah. We must take all these into consideration,” said Nazri.

Without mentioning any figure, Nazri said under his leadership, both states could expect a significant increase in tourism budget from the federal government.

Also yesterday, Nazri visited the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and was given a traditional Bidayuh welcome at the Kampung Benuk longhouse. He was also given the honour to plant a tree at the Kampung Benuk Cultural Centre.