In an effort to attract more tourists, Sarawak is targeting foreign students to take part in Homestay programmes and at the same time learn English here.

Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Michael Manyin said the current trend showed that a lot of foreign students, especially Koreans and Japanese, joined Homestay programmes during school holidays while also taking English courses.

“The Homestay Programme which offers a package to learn English is getting good response among students from Korea and Japan where they will come to Malaysia for two weeks during their school holidays.

“The students will attend English classes in addition to learning about the way of life, culture, handicraft and enjoying traditional delicacies in villages and longhouses,” he told reporters after launching the “Panggah” (Baruk) building at Kampung Bunuk in Jalan Borneo Heights, near here, Monday.

Manyin said 232 operators from 19 villages were pursuing the Homestay programme throughout Sarawak.

He said 10,480 tourists had taken part in Homestay programmes here, yielding as much as RM500,000 to Homestay operators in the state.

“In the first two months this year, 5,632 tourists took part in Homestay programmes and brought in around RM100,000,” he said.

Meanwhile, Manyin urged Homestay programme operators in the state to register with the Tourism Ministry so that they could enjoy the facilities and benefits offered by the ministry.

“The ministry will allocate funds to upgrade facilities in the houses registered with the ministry. For example, RM5,000 will be given to upgrade toilets in each home.

“Besides that, the ministry will also help programme operators with promotion work locally and abroad. I hope they will register with the ministry as soon as possible,” he said.