Monday, September 24, 2012

Sabah Homestays urged to be more professional

THE homestays in Kundasang, Ranau, need to upgrade not only the level of professionalism in dealing with their clientele but also the quality of their packages and accommodation facilities.

“We need to be more co-ordinated and cohesive in tapping the homestay market effectively,” said Kohadie Watiman, vice president of the Homestay Association Malaysia.

“I think we have been fairly successful in our venture and I believe we will continue thrive in this industry provided we do not remain complacent but continue to make improvements as and when necessary,” he added.

His own Walai Tokou Homestay in Kundasang had been making its presence felt all over Malaysia in recent months through the promotion of its tourism products.

This presence was further enhanced when the outfit was officially declared a Kampungstay — meaning it’s no longer identified through its homes and village but the villages are recognised within the programme as one for Villagestay.

Walai Tokou, sited within the mountainuous district of Kundasang, has been in operation for several years now and since grown by leaps and bounds, according Kohadie, chairman of the Kampungstay in the area.

“We started in my village — Kampung Sinisian — several years ago. We were banking on our cultural and traditional heritage at that time, sharing what we had with our tourists.

“Personally, my passion was bamboo music and we gathered our youths, friends and family to create our own traditional bamboo music. We learned to play the music and performed in and outside the country. I must say we have been quite successful.

“Maybe our success was through our perseverance to make everything work. We went through tremendous learning stages but in the end, we managed to put up our homestay here — and other villages started to follow suit. More houses in our area started to run their own homestays and soon we were thriving,” he recalled.

There are now 15 participants under the Kampungstay with three more villagers signing up recently.

Kohadie pointed out that the Walai Tokou Kampungstay was banking on Nature and the people’s way of life as its “pulling power.”

“Our tourism products include visits to the highland vegetable and strawberry farm, the rose garden, the dairy farm, the Poring Hotspring, the Canopy walk and waterfall,” he said, adding that among the other sites being promoted are Sabah Tea Garden, the Luanti Tagal and Fish spa, the War Memorial and the Nunuk Ragang Monument.

“I’m happy the homestay participants are actively promoting these areas and I hope they will continue to do so – and take care of their compound to ensure a clean and green environment.”

On the traditional side, Kohadie and his team are promoting bamboo-music songs and dances as well as handicrafts production.

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