Tourists' perception of
the homestays in Sabah.
Clotilde Luquiau
Paris X Nanterre
► Tourism
in Homestays financially benefits directly
to the local people which is a characteristic of
► Homestay: association of several villagers who
have an agreement from the ministry of Tourism in
order to welcome tourists in their own house.
► Many tourists seem eager to stay in a
homestay but most of them stay in lodges
► Why
are some tourists willing and others
reluctant to stay in a homestay?
► Why some tourists who initially prefer the
homestay actually end up in a lodge?
► How is it possible to make sure that the
homestays attract all the tourists eager to
share the villagers’ life?
I.The Kinabatangan lower floodplain
in Sabah, Malaysia (JUPEM 1996)
Kota Kinabalu
Tourism in the
wildlife spotting
during a
Pygmy elephant,
A lodge in Sukau
Crocodile (5 m)
Pig tail macaque,
 tourists in
August 2008
Villages with a Homestay in the
Kinabatangan: Batu Puteh, Bilit, Sukau and
Main characteristics of the 4 villages of the
lower Kinabatangan with a homestay
In the village
Tour Operator
working with the
0 lodge
0 B&B
33 (2009)
Intrepid Travel
5 lodges
1 B&B
road in bad
12 (2010)
7 lodges
2 B&B
road in good
23 (2010)
Red Ape Encounter
1 lodge
5 (2008)
SI Tour (lodge in
Abai and Sukau)
► Structured
or semi-structured interviews
► Questionnaires : self administered and
► Participant observation
► Secondary data
II. Tourists perception
Tourists who stayed in the homestay
 They liked it: most of the feed backs in the
homestays are enthusiastic, globally, most of
the participants were happy to stay in the
homestay even if they had some points to
 (Cf. Feed back forms in Batu Puteh, guest books
in the other villages)
Interviews & questionnaires:
118 informants
► 65
Are interested to stay in one of the
villagers' house
► 26 Are not interested to stay in a homestay
► Only 16 have already experienced the
homestay in Malaysia or in another country
► Other did not answer or answered
« maybe »
Pull factors
► To
learn about the local culture, the tradition, to
understand and share the everyday life of the
people (first reason) “homestay is an eye opener
into the culture” (2010)
► Tourists who have connections with people who
stayed in the homestay
► Tourists who have appreciated their experience in
homestays in other countries
► To eat local food
► To sustain local economy
Push factors
Need for Privacy
Need for comfort (« I am too old » a 63 years old femal informant, 2008), good
bed, fan
Lack of Hygiene, afraid of bugs, dirty toilets
1 informant does not want to eat rice everyday
Fear: « it’s dangerous »
Discretion, tourists don’t want to embarrass local people, « i don’t want to impose
my family to other people » (Informants in a groupe of 4 adults & 7 children; other
in a family of 5)
Afraid of restrictions
More difficult to make the booking through a homestay than through a lodge or a
Problems of communication with the hosts
There are more people to share the boat in a lodge: the price per pax is more
Afraid of being bored: “ I never went to homestay, because i am afraid of having
nothing to do” Malaysian informant who works in villages for his research…
« not suitable for honey moon »
No curiosity : For local people: « I have friends who invite me in their villages, I
don’t need to go to a homestay »
Disappointed « wanna stay » in the
► Did
not know about the homestay program
in Malaysia
► Impossible to book using the information
provided on Internet
► Knew about the homestay but not about the
fact there was one in Sukau
► Confusion between homestay and B&B
► Homestay was not in any package and the
informant wanted a package (2)
Mitigated feelings towards the
► Some
tourists are all together eager to
discover the local culture and afraid of the
standard of the accommodation in the
► “ …with clean bed sheets, then I can know
their local culture more, actually, I would
love to do it” Sabahan female Informant, 30
years old, 2010
Satisfaction coming from the
experience may overcome
dissatisfaction due to discomfort
► The
pull factors are more existential, intangible
the push factors are more practical, tangible and
► In her research about the Kinabatangan Jennifer
Chan shows that “true satisfiers are related
primarily ,to intangible elements” such as wildlife
encounter “while dissatisfiers are related to
tangible elements”. In her study, guests are
mostly satisfied by their experience even though
they complain about the lodge maintenance
(CHAN & BAUM 2007)
Other possibilities: avoid discomfort
and experience the homestay
► “we
did not stay overnight, we did stay in a hotel,
it was not comfortable as stranger, in
someones'house. We did not know who they
are(…), we only visited the homestay, we would
like to try. Maybe we would prefer to know who
the people are. It was in longhouse in Sarawak.
the toilets is very important [as well as] the
electricity” Later in the interview: “I want to see
the people, not only the scenery...”
Interview of a Sabahan family living in Kota Kinabalu
III.How to attract tourists willing to
stay in the village?
► Communication
► Networking
► More
► Local improvement:
 Equipment
 Diversification
► Smart
More communication on the experience of wildlife viewing and culture
Description of the basic accommodation as do intrepid guides (mandi,
squatting toilets, rainwater or river water…)
Communication about how to respect a Muslim society
Need for more promotion on Internet : already improving constantly
Batu Puteh :
Improve public transportation, signboards to make easier to find the
Give accurate contacts on websites: several telephone numbers and
Booking through Internet
Centralised booking in Kota Kinabalu
More communication about the controls of hygiene from the ministry of
► Local
tour operator for homestay
► Create more connection with NGO’s and
tours specialised in sustainable tourism,
ethnic tourism, responsible tourism etc with
a proactive approach
More Training
► NB:
Training is already provided: Hospitality,
hygiene, house keeping, nature conservation,
concept of homestay, stay in other homestays…
► Create more opportunity for people of Batu
Puteh and Red Ape Encounter to organise
workshop in other homestays
► English training/ conversation guides in different
languages for each homestay
► Exposure to tourism (done in Batu Puteh) to
understand the tourists better
Local Improvement: equipment
► Clean
water supply
► Hygiene (training, eco-friendly products,
small loans for toilets and shower)
► Hygiene certificate from the ministry or the
local authority such as A,B,C in the
Malaysian restaurants
Local Improvement: diversification
Promote packages in homestays:
 Itinerary in several villages in Sabah
► Different
► Different
► Different
places: Sea/ Mountain/ Jungle
activities: sport/ cultural activity/ activity related to nature
 Itinerary with villages in peninsular Malaysia , Sarawak, Sabah
 International itinerary: Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines…
Propose more activities
Night in the homestay not mandatory
 Will attract more local people
 Will include villagers who can not upgrade their house to fit in the
requirements of the ministry and young people who don’t have their
own house
restaurant in Abai, tiger prawns, local cakes…
visit of the village with a guide explaining the everyday life of the
people including the making of boats « kappal » the tourists are
brought by a local tour operator who has a lodge in the village
Smart volunteering
► Skilled
people are volunteer
► Their personal or professional skills are not used
 Problem: they need to feel on holiday…
► Planning,
software, communication, website
management, languages, biodiversity monitoring…
► Instead of cleaning, maintaining tracks, building…
► Use the skills local people don’t have to improve
the training
► Many
tourists are willing to stay in the homestay
► Limitations:
 Qualitative research
 Desirability
► The
pull factor are existential and push factors
material(J. Chan)
► Improving communication, training, networking,
and homestay itself would bring more tourists.
Butler R. & Hinch T., 2007, Tourism and Indigenous people, Issues and
implications, Elsevier, 380p.
CHAN J. & Tom BAUM T., « determination of satisfiers and dissatisfiers Using
HERZBEG’s motivator and Hygiene Factor Theory : an exploratory study », in
Tourism, culture and communication, Vol 7 Number 2, 2007, pp. 117-132.
FENNELL David A., Ecotourism, an introduction, Routledge, New-York &
London, 315p.
HUSSIN Rosazman, 2006, Ecotourism development and local community
participation : case studies of Batu Puteh and Sukau village in Lower
Kinabatangan area of Sabah, Malaysia, Thesis, Department of Sociology,
Anthropology and applied social sciences, University of Glasgow, UK, 454p.
SCHULZE Heiko, SURATMAN Suriamni, 1999, Villagers in transition, Case
Stuides from Sabah, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, 93p.

The perception of the homestay