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'RM50,000 business lost' due to use of word 'homestay'
Published on: Friday, June 05, 2015
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Kota Kinabalu: The use of the word 'homestay' by the Sabah Police Commissioner last week cost a homestay operator in Kundasang RM50,000 worth of business. Kundasang homestay operator Walai Tokou claimed 20 groups of holidaymakers from the peninsula and Singapore had cancelled their bookings after Datuk Jallaludin Abdul Rahman used the word 'homestay' when announcing the arrest of fugitive 'Mat Malaya' on June 1.

Malaysian Homestay Association Vice President Kohadie Watiman believed the use of the word by the police chief could have gone unchecked or misrepresented.

"We checked with the police if it's true and they appeared to be unclear over the meaning of the word.

"It is actually an illegally operated lodge with a homestay name," he said.

He said 18 of those who booked were from all over Malaysia, while the rest were from Singapore, comprising mostly families.

When Jallaludin used the word 'homestay', Kohadie said the hopes of 85 homestay operators in Kundasang to earn an income were also dashed.

By the Culture and Tourism Ministry standards, homestay is an operation that allows guests to stay at the home of its host and carry out activities along with their hosting family.

The characteristics of a homestay include its services being sold in packages, instead of a bed and breakfast facility, and also their guests are screened, he pointed out.

"Furthermore, the business is licensed by the Ministry and the word is exclusive only to genuine operators and not lodges," said Kohadie.

Although there are many lodges operating with a homestay name in Kundasang, Kohadie said they are mostly operating illegally without the ministry's licence.

He said it is not easy to get a homestay licence as potential operators have to undergo a stringent process of training and courses.

Kohadie said many of the so-called homestays in Kundasang are operating with a trading licence obtained from the district council, mostly to operate a lodge or a guesthouse.

"Once the licence is obtained, the operators will install their signboards with the word 'homestay' to bank on the booming industry although it is forbidden," he said, adding that no district council has the authority to issue homestay permits.

According to him, not only they had lost a source of revenue, Walai Tokou, which has homestay operators spanning six villages in Kundasang, also lost the confidence of their clients.

"Clients who called in to cancel their bookings also sounded they were gripped by fear as if we were conspiring with criminals.

"We have tried to dissuade them to continue their stay here, reiterating that Sabah is safe, but they were determined to cancel them anyway," he said.

The arrest of Mat Malaya (real name Mohd Jusnaidi Omar), who had a previous drug conviction but freed by the High Court in 2007, is a brother of a former Federal Minister.

Last week, police claimed to have arrested 'Mat Malaya' along with his 24-year-old wife and two-year-old daughter for allegedly shooting a mechanic at a car air-conditioning repair shop in Inanam on May 6, at a homestay at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu.

His arrest was widely publicised by the media.



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