Monday, June 10, 2013

Sarawak homestays become top-flight if operators certified

KUCHING: Unregistered Sarawak 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.

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.