Home towns the new frontier for young Malaysians

Saloma’s villagestay is in Straits Times !

Mr Kam said he had to learn from scratch necessary skills such as carpentry and house building, and even gardening.

Said Ms Saloma Gugug, another hometown entrepreneur: « It really depends on your passion, you need to be willing to keep trying new things and learning new things. »

Five years ago, Ms Saloma, then 25, decided to set up a travel business in her home village of Kampung Sadir, tucked in the pristine foothills of a mountain range around 90 minutes’ drive from Kuching in Sarawak.

She had graduated with a degree in mass communications but her heart remained in the countryside.

Deciding against joining the corporate sector, Ms Saloma instead began organising tours to her village, housing tourists in her family home.

This became such a hit that the family soon expanded the house from three to six bedrooms, and built open decks for visitors.

It was initially tough, particularly because the local villagers were not certain about the venture, and Ms Saloma found herself the target of gossip because of the influx of foreign visitors to the home of a young, single woman.

« They didn’t know much about tourism at that time and wondered what sort of activity was taking place here. It was very difficult for my parents, and I told them that I would stop the homestay if they were unhappy about it, » she said.

But her parents supported her. Eventually, the villagers came to understand her project, and are now happy to work alongside to provide services as guides or drivers.

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