Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Mai" Beraya Homestay 2010

I am sure you all noticed that despite now that I am working with MOTOUR, none of my entry touch about my new job. Well, other than being too busy to update this blog, another reason is I was too busy to enjoy the event. This time it was different because I asked my good friends Seelan, Hana, Casly and Nora to handle it for me. Thanks dearest.

FYI, this month MOTOUR Penang is very busy until 12 October. Events and programs are back to back. Beginning with Mai Beraya Homestay (18-19 Sept) followed by Kuiz Pelancongan Pelajar (21 Sept), Pesta Tanglung (25 Sept), Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism -Sparkles in Penang (30 Sept), Blogfest.Asia (1 Oct), Seminar Premis Penginapan (11 Oct) and Seminar Penang Tourist Guide (12 Oct). In between, I had to attend my PTK 4 from 21st Sept -30 Sept and World Tourism Conference 2010 in KK on 4-6 Oct.

For those happened to be in Penang on 30 September, do join MCAT Penang in Dewan Budaya USM. We are turning the whole USM campus into a gallery. Plus we are doing Penang Hawker Food style lunch. Will start from 9 am till 2 pm.

Mai Beraya Homestay was actually a brainchild of mine and N9 Director Adawiyah when we discussing about how to turnaround our Homestay Program into something profitable and interesting. However, as her State is more Southern, she planned to tap the Singaporean market for Majlis Aqiqah. In my case, I need to deal with a lot of issues of resetting, reforming, rebranding and repositioning my Penang Homestays first, which I will not discuss here. For political reasons.

Anyway, before I could proceed more with our Homestay program I decided to test the local community participation and support on the homestay products, observed how the co-ordinators conduct the homestay activities as well as to test the awareness of the younger Penangites on local tourism products such as homestay. In addition to that, I also want to observe the support from other industry players particularly, travel agencies. Many programs look impressive on paper but to make them really successful, to me, there must be PASSION from all the parties involved.

So for my Mai Beraya Homestay 2010, my office chose Homestay Mengkuang Titi, Bukit Mertajam, Seberang Perai Tengah as the first host. From Georgetown or Penang International Airport it will took about 30 minutes drive to reach there. I am setting up a special blog on Penang Homestay "dalam masa terdekat". This is the assignment that I am going to give to one practical students in my office.

We also get support from the State Education Department, who advice us on the dos and don'ts with regards to the students and teachers. To be honest, the more I get to know the State Education officers, the more I think that they really care for their teachers and students. Small things like gifts and certificate of participation (actually very important untuk apply kerja or uni) were usually overlooked. 7 schools joined our 1Malaysia Green and Clean Homestay on the 18th with students from all races and religion.

Actually the idea to do the campaign first before the Mai Beraya Homestay was to ensure that the area for the program is beautify and clean up before the event. Kesian budak-budak sekolah jadi mangsa. But to be honest, it was not easy to handle them too during the event. They prefer to sit and watch instead of volunteering. We had to give them instructions to get them occupied and not wandering off. Thanks to all the teachers who were helping us out with the students.

Having said that, it was quite funny too to see the boys teasing the girls from other schools. Hahaha and also seeing some of the students "berebut nak tanam pokok mengkuang'- the namesake of the homestay.

Well, to me, I hope that the students could mingle around and meet new friends. However, maybe the event was too short. Most of them still prefer to stick in a group among their schoolmates. Anyway, we chose Tok Wan's house for the venue of gotong-royong. One of the reason is Tok Wan's house is among the remaining Penang Malay traditional houses in the village.

I saw everyone took pictures in and outside the house. Maybe because they have never seen a traditional Malay house before. I wonder how would they react if they saw our Iban or Bidayuh longhouses. They also learned how to play congkak and weave the coconut leave grasshopper (no pic sorry).

We were also taught how to "kopek the buah kelapa" the traditional way. As demonstrated by Nora here. Caya lah!

After lunch and a short break, we decided to do Sukan Rakyat. The students were mixed up and divided into 4 groups. However, as it was raining so we only manage to do the tug of war (tarik tali). It would be interesting to see the tarik upih and lari tempurung kelapa. While waiting for the rain to stop, our office taught them how to do the Tarian Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia. Funny, this appeals them more compared to the fast beat songs of the senamrobik earlier in the morning. Really happening!

Later the homestay coodinator showed us how the villagers welcome tourists to the homestay. I was watching the students reactions, most of them were excited especially the Chinese students. The tourists were 12 journalists from Switzerland, instead of them interviewing us, they were being interviewed by us hehehe.

I guess they were quite shock with the too warm welcome and the crowd until they had to take our pictures. Hahaha ... well good for Homestay Mengkuang Titi. Actually later that night we had demonstration of Hari Raya preparation to the tourists such as "kacau dodol", "bakar lemang" and anyam ketupat. In fact that night, the tourists took photos in traditional Malay costume. It was quite happening but I don't have the photos. Maybe upload in facebook later.

The next day we had our Mai Beraya Homestay 2010. Most of the media as well as invited guests were present. It was officiated by my Deputy Secretary General for Tourism, Datuk Abdul Ghaffar. My new good friend Ibu Irzani from the Indonesia Consulate General Office was also present to give support. We met during the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle meeting and one of our roadmap is to produce a homestay network between the 3 countries. I am not sure about other states like Kelantan, Perlis and Kedah but Malacca is definitely all out for it. It was Malacca Director who gave me the insight on the IMTGT program (after many attempts to get information from IR Division officers).

Personally, I am only 75% satisfied with the program as I don't think it really meet my expectation. But I learned a lot from it. Firstly, I still need to lead and guide the homestays to think like a businessman and to be competitive without depending on the government. It took them a while to see that they can actually do special Raya packages for tourists.

Secondly, tourism players like hotels and travel agents must see homestays as partners not competitors. They were actually unaware that homestays must have activities like "sukan rakyat" and craft-making. which appeal to their guests. Thirdly, more efforts must be done to promote our homestays to our local people and youngsters first. They should be our local tourism product supporters, ambassadors and promoters. Finally, I still must monitor some of my staff. Some mistakes were result of ignorance.


nora said...

Mai Beraya Homestay Mengkuang Titi ROCKS!!!!

norzah said...

If what you described in your entry is the work of the lazy and antisocial lady tourism supremo in Penang, i don't know what will happen once she disposed of the lethargic tendency. Perhaps Penang will explode with tourism activities. Even now the programs lined up seem very tight and hectic to me. Mai homestay may become a model for other states to follow.
Ok, J, you seem to have everything ready to swing. I can only wish you to have all the luck you need and while doing all the advertising and promotion don't forget to look around for the illusive Ghost from gunung asmaradana.

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