Opening hearts and minds through homestays
Content submitted by – Lili
Submited Date : 28/06/2018
Dato’ Haji Sahariman bin Haji Hamdan with the guests in her homestay

My name is Dato’ Haji Sahariman bin Haji Hamdan and this is my story… At the age of 25 I got married, now I have nine kids. I used to be a rubber tapper. 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. From the early stage of five houses 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, we don’t have to go there. There are around 151 villages throughout Malaysia which are part of the homestay programme with the help and support from the government. I started a business with one room, and now I have about 34 rooms. I have nine kids and four of them are working with me. I have more than 12 youngsters in this village also working part time with me. 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. When we talk about tourism, there’s a lot of money and revenue coming from this tourism. We get money from accommodation, food and meals and from activities. 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. We thank a lot not only to the Ministry of Tourism. We also thank the Ministry of Rural Development and Entrepreneur. They helped us with training and seminars on internet and technologies. We also have the Plant a Tree Programme. All the people who come to the village plant a tree, and now we have more than 100,000 trees that have been planted by the people who visited our homestay programme. 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. We started with about 5% of occupancy. Now, at the end of 2012, we have about 33% of occupancy. We started getting revenue only about RM 5 million and we already achieve RM 18.6 million. We have about 325,000 people who have visited us in 2012. 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.