Mesilou Atamis Homestay Association
Borneo, Kundasang, Malaysia
Mesilou Atamis Homestay Association was registered in 2014 with 20 homestay families. ‘Atamis’ means cold, because of the “cold” climate in the highland area compared with the tropical lowlands, hence it is popularly known as “The Highest & Coldest Homestay in Malaysia”. It lies at an altitude of about 1600m above sea level and the temperature can be as low as 15°C during the night. In the past, Mesilou Atamis Homestay showcased unique traditional and cultural activities to guests but had become more like a home rentals service caused by demand from domestic tourism resulting in a large disconnect between locals and travellers. The community hoped to share their unique culture with international visitors and increase their income from cultural immersion activities like fishing, farming, and cooking for travellers with the revival of their homestay program.
Planeterra Foundation provided a catalyst grant for Mesilou Atamis Homestay (MAH) to fund capacity building through partners BEST Society, a Malaysian non-profit that has expertise in community development. MAH received the necessary training to improve their homestay operation, creating new tourism activities that travellers are able to have and enjoy real local experiences.
Travellers have the chance to try a “Foodie Moment”, visiting local farms owned by MAH members including an organic fruit orchard; an Aqua Farm that uses fish waste instead of using chemical fertilizer for a hydroponic system and participate in a cooking activity with local women.
The project creates opportunities for the young generation of entrepreneurs who have returned to their home town and are turning their family’s home into local accommodation as well as helping other community members to gain additional income from tourism. The community feels they are able to shine again after many years of not having the opportunity to share their culture with international travellers.