This is something entirely new to the industry.
The Tourism Ministry is to act immediately against fraudulent homestay programmes before the scam undermines the tourism industry, said the Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
She said she had instructed the enforcement division of the ministry to identify these fake programmes and act against them.
"Perhaps the ministry can require all homestay programmes to register with it and rebrand them to enable the tourists to differentiate between the real and the fake.
"Right now, there are no specific laws for the government to act against the fake homestay operators, but the matter has to be tackled for the tourism industry to grow," she told reporters after a meeting with officers and staff of the ministry in Kelantan and Tourism Malaysia Kelantan, here.
Ng said operators of fake homestay programmes did not live in, contrary to the objective of the programmes, and did not fulfil the criteria as promoted in the package.
"Tourists must understand that in a homestay programme, the owner of the house lives in and takes the tourists through the package of activities," she said, adding that tourists had complained of having been cheated.
Ng said eight villages in Kelantan offered homestay programmes operated by 161 home owners who made available 194 rooms.
Last year, she said, 1,193 foreign tourists and 1,148 domestic tourists participated in the homestay programmes, bringing in returns of RM1.17 million.
Ng said Kelantan had the potential to draw more tourists, particularly from Singapore, and the ministry had launched a homestay programme incorporating a train journey in October last year to boost the potential.
"Tourist information centres were visited by 2,149 tourists from Japan, China, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom, indicating an interest in the tourism products of Kelantan," she said.
We know for a fact that the homestay program is not new in this world. It has been started by Japan 50 years ago by several youth organisation as part of their community development program. When the owner is not staying in the house taking care of the guests it cannot be called "homestay". Instead you can call it SELDOM INN or better still ON HOLIDAY INN.
The Ministry might want to launch this new product since it is always hungry for new ideas.