Monday, September 22, 2008

A home sweet home with paying guests


A home sweet home with paying guests
By : Sean Augustin

Syed Mohd Hafizuddin Syed Omar says the villagers of Teluk Ketapang are determined to make the homestay programme a success.

KUALA TERENGGANU: It all began when Syed Mohd Hafizuddin Syed Omar adopted a student under the Bakti Siswa programme in 2006.

Bakti Siswa is a community and welfare programme involving home stays for public university undergraduates in different parts of the country.

That experience proved to be an eye-opener for him and his neighbours.

Soon, the idea of welcoming complete strangers into one's home became a popular and profitable practice in Kampung Teluk Ketapang.

One year after the setting up of the Teluk Ketapang homestay programme, the village has been chosen to represent Terengganu for the National Homestay awards in November.

Teluk Ketapang was chosen because it recorded the highest number of foreign tourists.

Last year, villagers welcomed 66 foreign and 554 local tourists. In the first eight months of this year, they played host to 216 foreign and 66 local tourists.

The village's closest homestay competitors, Kampung Pasir Raja and Kampung Rhu 10, recorded 32 foreign guests each.

"We got help from the Malaysia Youth Council. We were short of funds, but the determination of villagers was very strong," said Hafizuddin, who is secretary of the homestay programme.

"Unlike other homestays which had their own tourism product, we did not.

"We are actually a kampung in the middle of the town.

"But it didn't deter us. We established service as our product."

Hafizuddin said ikan celup tepung (deep-fried fish dipped in flour) and monkeys trained to pluck coconuts have also been included as tourism products.

Terengganu Tourism Action Council general manager Ahmad Fathil Abd Ghani said the Teluk Ketapang home-stay was outstanding in terms of management and commitment.

Its participants, he added, were very open to new ideas and would participate in courses organised by the Tourism Ministry and related agencies.

"They are a good role model for others to follow. Their readiness to venture into the industry was an important factor.

"The homestay programme has turned the kampung folk into entrepreneurs."

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