Tough going for rural tourism players

Date:

KUCHING:Tourism players in the rural areas are still finding it hard to bounce back as they are experiencing very poor patronage at their business premises and outlets.

Kampung Annah Rais Longhouse in Padawan is among those badly affected.

After closing its doors to visitors for about two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bidayuh traditional longhouse reopened on Jan 1 this year, but is experiencing a very low number of visitors.

New Sarawak Tribune visited the longhouse and spoke to the person manning the ticket counter of the longhouse, Jenny Dudu, 52, who disclosed that there has been a drastic drop of about 80 per cent in visitor arrivals to the longhouse.

According to Jenny, before the pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020, each day especially during Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays more than 100 visitors would come to the longhouse.

But since Jan 1 this year there has only been 30 to 50 visitors.

She said no foreign visitors have turned up at the longhouse since the reopening of the country’s borders on April 1.

“Before the pandemic our entrance fee collections were between RM7,000 and RM8,000 a month, but now it is only about RM2,000 a month,” said Jenny.

She said effective Jan 1 this year they have been charging an entrance fee of RM10 per adult and RM5 for children above six compared to RM8 and RM3 respectively previously.

Also badly affected are the nine homestay in the village, said Jenny, pointing out that each homestay only received two or three guests each month.

“Before the pandemic each homestay will get to host up to more than 30 guests a month,” she said.

Kerin Sarus, who operates Ma’asa Homestay at Kampung Semadang, Jalan Puncak Borneo also complained of low occupancy since the pandemic.

“Since we re-opened last year we received only 10 guests from Kuala Lumpur in March and another two groups of 30 telemovie crews who had their film shoot in our place and the nearby sites.

Meanwhile checks with several eateries along the Borneo Heights Road also discovered that these operators had been experiencing bad business since the beginning of the pandemic.

Maylan Lai, 52, a café operator at Kampung Abang in Padawan said her business was badly affected by the pandemic but she just refused to give up and is now operating her café with the help of her younger sister Dina who returned from Johor.

Dina is selling her Nasi Lemak special and laksa, the menu she previously sold in Johore Baharu.

Maylan, who started her food business in 1997, starting with a kolo mee stall at a roadside near her village, said her daily sale is far below the usual amount she collected before the pandemic.

“Now my daily collection is slightly more than RM100,” she added, but hoped business will pick up soon.
However two other eatery operators, Henry Bateh and Kolding Saep have registered brisk business ever since the reopening of their food outlets.

Henry who operates WhiteDove Café at the junction of Kampung Giam, said his business really suffered during the pandemic particularly during the MCO.

“Thankfully my customers are coming back and business is now back to normal,” he said.

Kolding who operates a food stall at Kampung Semadang said he has had many customers coming to his stall especially during the weekends.

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