Laman Rohaniku is an authentic village homestay experience that promotes Malaysian rural community life to tourists. The homestay programme lets tourists stay with a registered host family, so they can interact and experience the life of the rural community. The tourists will stay with the host family and learn their way of life. The initative also promotes agricultural products in the community, such as coconut farming, rubber plantation, palm oil plantation and fruit orchards.
How It Started
Established in 1995, this initiative started with 10 families. In fact, it was the first homestay in Malaysia. This programme was registered with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Malaysia, and was an initiative under the Rural Tourism Master Plan. It aimed to increase the engagement and participation of rural communities in the tourism sector.
“Many of my friends had to leave our village to look for employment outside and in the city. After they left, this village had fewer young people. Our culture became neglected,” said Khairul Hakimin Bin Sahariman, general manager of Kampungstay Desa Murni.
“So, we developed Village Stay, Homestay and Kampungstay Kampung Murni, with the objective to maintain our culture and to provide employment opportunities for our villagers. This initiative has benefitted the villagers, who are from the B40 community, over the past few decades,” He said.
Khairul’s concept was to get the village community and their families involved in the rural tourism industry. The tourists would come to the village and stay with them in their homes. But before they joined this programme, the villagers had to attend courses, in which they learnt how to receive and welcome guests/tourists, how to prepare amenities in their home in terms of cleanliness and safety, and other relevant matters.
“We started with 10 houses. In the beginning, they were not confident as hosts, but they eventually built up their confidence over time. They discovered that tourists were friendly and the tourists also shared their experiences with them. Now we have almost 80 families in our homestay programme. The beneficiaries who are the host families receive 51% of the payment from the tourists,” said Khairul.
According to Khairul, 5,000 to 6,000 tourists came to stay in 2010. Then, they expanded the homestay business to the next stage - the ‘Kampungstay’ experience, which was a new product that offered additional amenities such as air-con and hot water.
He explained that due to the expansion to the new product and increased capacity, 12,000 to 13,000 tourists came to stay in the 2017 to 2019 period.
“When the tourists came to the village, we could introduce our local village products to them and our culture. They learnt about and experience the life of the villagers in agriculture. They learnt about rubber tapping in the rubber plantation, and also went fishing at the Pahang River. People who were not from the rural areas were not familiar with village life and all our economic activities. This included both local and international tourists. It was quite an unforgettable eye-opening experience for them,” he added.
The target beneficiaries were the local community around Temerloh which were not only the homestay hosts, but included local entrepreneurs as well. These enterpreneurs provided products or services needed for the homestay business. By collaborating with their companies, Khairul helped them to sell their products and improved their business development, to generate income.
“We wanted to create more job opportunities, enhance the local product market and help the local community improve their quality of life. Most of the workers were from the surrounding villages,” said Khairul.
In addition, the initiative provided part-time jobs and accepted university students for their industrial training. Besides that, they also sourced for supplies from local suppliers such as catering services, household goods and also gave opportunities for outsiders to organise any programmes or events at their facilities, such as swimming and baking classes.
Growing the Social Enterprise
This initative is a part of the Pemangkin Usahawan Sosial Hebat (PUSH) programme, and supported by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC). PUSH is a scale-up programme with an ambition to grow social enterprises and increase their social impact through a personalised capacity building and skills development training.
“Before PUSH, we had only 15 families in our programme and we were a regular enterprise. However, after PUSH, we changed to a social enterprise, where more families could see that we benefitted the local B40 community and helped improve social impact and increase their income,” said Khairul.
“My vision and mission are clear. I will continue to enhance our homestay offerings while benefitting the village folks at the same time,” he added.
This initiative was a prime example of how the government and society as well the private sector could work together for the long term towards improving the economic and social well-being of the B40 community.
How You Can Help
The initiative specialises in a rural village stay experience. You can choose to stay with a host family in in the Homestay programme, or stay in the Kampungstay which offers more amenities. You can make your bookings at https://www.kampungstaydesamurni.com/
During the pandemic, tourism providers could not operate normally. So, Khairul has pivoted to offer community products such as homemade cookies and sambal hitam, as well as plants. To find out what are the products available and to place your order, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/kampungstaydesamurni/