SIBU (Jan 23): The hard-pressed operator of the award-winning Rumah Benjamin Angki homestay in Kanowit is exploring new strategies to sustain the homestay and livelihood of the longhouse residents as they have been hard hit by Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Tuai Rumah Benjamin Angki, 76, the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic had forced their homestay programme to be temporarily halted since last December.
He vividly recalled prior to the pandemic, the 74-door longhouse located some 60 kilometres from Sibu, welcomed on average between 150 and 200 local or domestic visitors and 10 to 12 foreign visitors per month.
He disclosed that the main attraction was their ‘Pesta Rantau Kemiding’ besides the Gawai Dayak Festival, while adding that local visitors were mainly day-trippers.
“But since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been badly affected and it is a challenge. Towards the end of December, last year, our homestay programme was temporarily halted to curb the spread of the virus.
“We have to look for new strategies to sustain (our homestay programme and livelihood of the residents). Our motto is stand on our own two feet,” Benjamin told The Borneo Post through a WhatsApp interview.
He disclosed the longhouse, which has 288 residents, had been placed under lockdown since Jan 19 for a period of two weeks to restrict the movement.
Furthermore, according to headman, the ‘ruai’ (common area) of the longhouse had been empty for the past two weeks as residents stayed indoors to curb the virus spread.
Additionally, he also reminded his residents to continue remaining indoors and observe the standard operating procedure (SOP) strictly.
“No visiting and outsiders are barred from coming to the longhouse.”
On a brighter note, Benjamin revealed that their homestay had won a number of accolades such as Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards (2013-2014, 2015-2016), ASEAN Homestay Standard (2017-2019), and placed second in the ‘1 District, 1 Industry’ 2016 winner for Homestay Category at the national-level.
The Rumah Benjamin Angki homestay started in 2011.
For the record, it had also accommodated participants of the annual Sibu BASE Jump event.