KUCHING: Kampung Santubong Homestay achieved another milestone last week with the Asean Homestay Award which recognises it as one of the top five homestays in the country.
Out of 181 homestays in Malaysia, the top five were selected for fulfilling the criteria set by the Asean Homestay Standard (AHS).
They are Kampung Santubong Homestay in Sarawak, Homestay Miso Walai (Sabah), Homestay Banghuris (Selangor), Homestay Kampung Lonek (Negeri Sembilan), and Homestay Kampung Taman Sedia (Pahang).
Kampung Santubong Homestay coordinator Jamilah Shukri said this recognition was another feather in the cap after being judged Best Homestay in the Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards 2009/2010 and taking third place in the Best Homestay category of the national-level One District One Industry (SDSI) showcase in 2012.
“I feel happy to receive this award. It means a lot to us, considering that after eight years of struggle, we finally managed to be top five among 33 homestays in Sarawak,” she said on the award received at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila hotel in the Philippines on Jan 22.
The inaugural award held in conjunction with the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) 2016 saw participation from homestays in Asean countries including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos People’s Democratic Republic, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
“The proposed benefits and privileges of being certified an Asean Homestay are mostly related to better access to marketing and promotional programmes carried out by related government agencies.
“Essentially, certified homestays will benefit from the branding of AHS which is an international recognition,” she said.
Among the benefits are being issued with an AHS certificate, logo and plaque to be displayed on the homestay premises, being promoted on the Asean organisation’s official website and at Asean and international tourism events and festivals.
AHS aims to create high quality homestays to appeal to discerning tourists and, in return, the certified homestays can charge higher rates that commensurate with the quality of experience offered.
On the assessment, Jamilah said: “We were not informed of the judging criteria and only knew about it when we were in the Philippines to receive the award.”
The criteria to qualify for the AHS are the homestay organisation and homestay provider must meet requirements that include the homestay organisation must score above the pass mark of 56.25 per cent, and homestay providers must score above the pass mark of 18.75 per cent.
“Both the homestay organisation and at least five homestay providers must qualify for the homestay to be certified an Asean Standard Homestay. If the homestay organisation or less than five homestay providers fail the assessment (below 75 per cent), the homestay automatically fails,” she added.
The inspection of Kampung Santubong Homestay was done by officers from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture last December.
“They told me to do a presentation on the homestay and products offered and, luckily, I followed all their instructions and requirements,” she said, hoping that the recognition would bring more tourists to Kampung Santubong Homestay.
On her future plans, Jamilah said she was now focusing on their ‘Kampung Stay’ programme, an extension of the homestay programme.
“The ‘Kampung Stay’ is suitable for those who prefer more privacy but want to experience the homestay experience as guests staying in houses without a host family. They can still join all the activities organised by the homestay,” she explained.
Jamilah is also setting up Koperasi Pengusaha-Pengusaha Homestay Kampung Santubong.
“We will gather the operators together and we will then have many people to take charge of homestay matters including transportation, catering and so on. The objective is for our homestay to be better organised.
“If we do it on our own, the progress may be a bit slow but if we combine, more people will contribute more ideas to further develop the homestay industry here,” she said of the cooperation that will be set up this year.
Kampung Santubong Homestay has been operating as a homestay for more than eight years now with signature products like mock weddings, ‘bergendang Melayu’, silat and traditional games.