State to come up with policy on homestays, says exco man


PENANG will need to look at the rules and regulations concerning homestay in private condominiums and high-rise apartments, says state executive councillor Yeoh Soon Hin.


Admitting that it is a long-standing issue, Yeoh said there is no problem for the units to be used for short-term homestays if they come with a commercial title.


The problems, he said, are those for residential purposes as many complaints have been received from the local dwellers over the nuisance caused by the holidaymakers.


“To regulate the homestay, many agencies need to be involved, like Motac (Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry), local councils, housing and not tourism per se.


“We need to take care of the local residents. It is still considered illegal from the point of law (for residential units to be used for homestay). Some countries have banned Airbnb while some have come up with rules to regulate the short-term stay.


“What we lack in this country now are rules and regulations,” Yeoh, who is in charge of the state’s Tourism and Creative Economy portfolio, said in reply to reporters’ questions after launching the 2022 High Fun Penang at The Top Penang in Komtar today.


Yeoh said those units, like some of the kampung-style homestays regulated by Motac, are allowed to operate.


He added that homestay operators using residential units created unfair competition for licensed hotels that have to pay tax and hotel fees.


State Housing, Local Government, Town and County Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh recently reiterated that if unit owners want to rent their units out to short-term guests or turn them into homestay units, 75% of the residents there must first agree to it.


He said that while the starting date for the ban of homestays in residential units has not been decided yet, the state government has agreed with the plan, based on the numerous complaints from residents’ groups at apartments, condominiums and residential neighbourhoods.


On a separate matter, Yeoh said many hotels in Penang recorded almost 100 per cent occupancy rate over the last few days due to the Labour Day and Hari Raya holidays.


“Some attractions also received good business, like back to pre-pandemic level. However, I still want to say that even though we received an overwhelming response during these long holidays, we are still not out of the woods yet.


“We still need to create more synergy and opportunities, especially to attract more international tourists to sustain our Penang state tourism,” Yeoh said.


Story by K.H. Ong