Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun yesterday launched the Walai Tokou Homestay at Kampung Sinisian in Kundasang which won the national-level homestay program competition called “Kejuaraan Jiham Desa”. Masidi who represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Hj Aman, was welcomed by hundreds of villagers who turned up for the occasion despite the incessant rains over the past few days in the district. The Walai Tokou Homestay at the village was established in 2001, and has become a role model for other operators in the country. Masidi said he was very proud of the people from the district for their achievement and added that Walai Tokou should encourage the setting up of other homestays in Sabah. “The main thing out of this success is that it opens your mind that you can do it. You too, can compete on a national level,” he said. Masidi also reckoned that being successful in managing a homestay is a promising sign that one can manage a hotel someday. “The homestay program is a stepping stone to a bigger lodging management one day”. Also present at the event was Tuan Hj Shariman bin Hamdan, president of the Homestay Malaysia who appealed to Masidi to continue supporting the homestay program. Masidi wholeheartedly responded that homestay will be his most important agenda and the “homestay program not only mirrors Sabahans’ unique culture and warm hospitality, but it is a form of income to the people.” He assured that he will help as many people in the rural areas so that they can also enjoy the tourism boom that Sabah is experiencing. “I want people from rural areas to taste the wealth of Sabah from the tourism industry first hand,” said Masidi.