Opening hearts and minds through homestays
“From the early ages in this village, now we have 162 houses to welcome people from all over the world and also from Malaysia. We can meet many people, we can meet Japanese, we can meet Europeans, and we don’t have to go there”.
In 1995, when I was in my early 30s, I started this program – the Homestay Programme. I began with my house first, then with my mother’s house and my mother-in-law’s house. Thanks to the government, especially the Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Malaysia who contribute to this Homestay Programme, now I’m like a boss to the rubber estate.
The homestay is very good as it gives a lot of revenue to the villagers. People come to the village, we treat them as part of the family – we stay together, we cook together, and do many activities together. A lot of money is coming to all the villagers.
There are a lot of activities in the villages – tapping rubber, fishing, elephant sanctuary; we have bird watching, and so on. This all creates revenue; a lot of money from the outside now comes to the villagers. I think it’s very good.
When we talk about achievement, every year is a success story. We started in early 1995, we developed less than 50 villages and now there are already 159 villages.
As I look to the future, I would like to transform this Homestay Programme. I would like to transform this business into a bigger business in the city and in beach areas. I think the time is now to grow this tourism from small to bigger, so that all the villages can achieve what people in the city can achieve.
Dato’ Haji Sahariman bin Haji Hamdan, Malaysia