Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Challenges and Community Development: A Case Study of Homestay in Malaysia

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Challenges and Community Development: A Case Study of Homestay in Malaysia

Article excerpt


Homestay programme, which was introduced in 1988, has become the iconic rural tourism product highlighting Malaysian cultural and traditional ways of life. The concept of Homestay is whereby a tourist stays together with the host family and interacts with the local community for a reasonable charge. This paper presents a review of community development through the Homestay programme in Malaysia as well as to review challenges facing the Homestay operators and community. Due to the potential of homestay in providing additional income and employment within the community, more participants have become motivated and encouraged to run the Homestay programme. Research methodology using content analysis approach was adopted in analyzing the data. The study revealed the many aspects of development, issues and challenges arising encompassing the stakeholders namely the Homestay operators, community and government agencies.

Keywords: homestay, local community, community development, challenges

1. Background of the Research

In Malaysia, the Homestay programme can be traced back to the early 1970s at the then 'drifter enclave' of Kg. Cherating Lama in Pahang, where a local lady by the name of Mak Long took in long staying drifters/hippies and provided breakfast, dinner and accommodation within her humble house (Amran, 1997). Subsequently, small villages or otherwise known as 'kampongs' followed a similar arrangement to gain the benefits of the influx of domestic and international tourists who are looking for a different travel experience i.e. to learn and experience culture through Homestay.

Back in 1988, the first Homestay program began at Desa Murni Homestay which consists of five villages namely as Desa Murni Sanggang, Desa Murni Sonsang, Desa Murni Kerdau, Desa Murni Ketam and Desa Murni Perangap. These villages are located about 15 minutes drive from an east coast state in Malaysia, Temerloh, Pahang. These local village communities worked together to create a Homestay programme and its success has had a dramatic effect on the local economy in terms of financial benefits. (Kalsom, 2007; 2009).

Following the success of the programme, in 1995 under the National Plan for Rural Development, the Malaysian Government took key measures in developing the tourism sector with the involvement of rural communities (Liu, 2006). The Malaysian Government through the Ministry of Culture, Art and Tourism had provided a specific fund to assist in the growth and expansion of the Homestay programme.

The Malaysian Government's increased focus on the development of Homestay is significant because it is regarded as a potentially good product in promoting the country as well as getting the community involved in the tourism industry through rural tourism. By taking advantage of the existing natural resources, cultural and heritage assets within the community, communities have been able to develop the Homestay product without spending so much on changing the existing infrastructure.

Not only is Homestay seen as a way to help generate income for the community, it also assists in fulfilling the Government's agenda to eradicate poverty and create job opportunities for the communities involved. This is reflected by the Homestay programme's two-prong objective as follows:

1) Generate income to the people/operator in the rural area; and

2) Promoting Malaysia as a tourist destination by highlighting the cultures of Malaysian people.

The Homestay programme has successfully contributed in providing alternative accommodation options to tourists that seek a different type of holiday compared to those offered in tourism packages. This gives them choice of accommodation and flexibility as to when they travel (Chan, 2004). In practice, most of the Homestay operators offer their extra room as lodgings for guest or tourist to stay at their house for a minimum charge or package. Any Homestay operator running the operation must meet the criteria set by the Malaysian Homestay Association in order to get the assistance and support from the Government and relevant agencies. …

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