Thursday, April 9

Homestay as post-conference option soon


TRADITIONAL CULTURE: Abang Johari (standing, second left), Jumaani (standing, third left) and other guests observing a traditional Gawai ritual on thanksgiving to the gods and spirits for a fruitful harvest by Kampung Benuk folk.

KUCHING: Kampung Benuk Homestay will be included as an option for post conferences in future in order to woo foreign delegates to experience the unique Bidayuh culture.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said he was confident that the village, with its rich culture and natural surroundings, would be welcomed by both delegates and tourists.

Speaking at the closing of Gawai Homestay Kampung Benuk 2012 at the village in Padawan here on Saturday, he said Kuching has been chosen as the venue for many international conferences.

Hence, industry players, such as homestay operators, should grab the golden opportunity to attract visitors from abroad.

“Kampung Benuk, which is near to Kuching, is a good place for international delegates to experience something unique after attending the conferences.

“We will try to promote Kampung Benuk Homestay as a place for post-conference programmes along with other nearby attractions like Annah Rais,” said Abang Johari, who is also Housing Minister.

Among those present were Abang Johari’s wife Datin Amar Jumaani Tuanku Bujang, Tarat assemblyman Roland Sagah Wee Inn and Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Datu Ik Pahon Joyik.

Despite its immense potential, Abang Johari cautioned that this initiative would not be sustainable unless the local community chipped in their bit.

He reasoned that as homestay was a community-based programme, it was vital for the local community to enhance it by, among others, zealously preserving their culture and natural surroundings.

“The government has allocated RM5.6 million to develop the state’s homestay. But you still have to promote it in creative ways. After all, tourism is about creativity, imagination and branding.”

He suggested that the Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) work closely with the Kampung Benuk Homestay community to develop products to attract more tourists.

Political stability is another pertinent factor for the development of the tourism industry, and he said he was glad that the state was far away from the many political and social tensions unravelling in the peninsula.

“But what is happening in the peninsula may happen in Kuching! It is vital for us to maintain peace and harmony.

“Who wants to come here if our society is not stable?”

Meanwhile, Kampung Benuk Homestay chairwoman Isabell Julau Mejat earlier on urged the government to provide more funds for them to enhance their programme.

Expressing her appreciation to the government for the RM470,000 allocation to upgrade current facilities, she said Kampung Benuk Homestay had won several awards since its establishment in 2006.

The homestay had 13 operators. It is managed by the cooperatives whichn had about 60 members.

For further information about Kampung Benuk Homestay, Isabell can be reached at 019-8498413, 014-6881488 or email [email protected]