| Azaraimy HH |
BRUNEI Tourism received a major shot in the arm as cruise vessel MV Sentosa was launched yesterday.
Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, said cruising along the Brunei River in the comfort of a spacious vessel is an attractive and value-added service not just for in bound visitors but also for domestic activities and tourism.
The minister spoke to the media while cruising the Brunei River after the vessel’s launch.
A river cruise provides a different mood altogether, for example a sunset river cruise while enjoying sumptuous buffet dinner, holding an event such as a celebration providing memorable takeaways for the passengers and touring the pristine river that is still in its natural state. River cruising is a niche market.
The minister said there are countries that have actually developed their rivers to provide for this industry, but in Brunei, the river is still in its natural state and a service such as this is in line with the objective of the nation’s tourism industry to provide a niche market as well as differentiated tourism for visitors.
“They also call it experiential tourism. Tourists come to experience the life in the country, come to find birds and hope to find new bird species. This is of course a specialised area of tourism, where visitors come not without knowledge or expertise on birds,” said the minister.
“This type of tourism,” the minister added, “for instance cruising the Brunei River, provides the visitors with a historical and natural perspective of the river.
Similarly, ethical tourists will also be interested as they are concerned about the environmental condition and concerned about the destruction of it.
“This type of service comes with a high cost of operation and safety issue is paramount,” the minister said and added that the government supports this type of service and over time, the ministry hopes that this industry will develop well and provide diversified services.
Formerly known as Tanjung Bakarang, this vessel is now owned and operated by Sha-Zan Marine Sdn Bhd after a year and a half spent on upgrading and refurbishing the vessel.
The vessel has a capacity to carry 60 passengers with fully enclosed air-conditioned decks. MV Sentosa is based and will operate from Queen Elizabeth II Jetty, Kg Dato Gandi, Jalan Kota Batu.
“Our main aim for Sentosa is to provide guests and tourists with a more comfortable and safe option of touring the Brunei River and Kampong Ayer,” said Managing Director of Sha-Zan Marine, Pehin Datu Paduka Raja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Hj Shari bin Ahmad. “Apart from safety and comfort, this vessel can accommodate many passengers at a time and refreshments can also be served on board.”
MV Sentosa complies with international maritime safety standards and will be operated by six certified crewmembers. With the introduction of this vessel, the company mainly aims to cater to the growing number of tourists visiting the country.
For locals, this vessel is not limited to just river cruising, as it can also be chartered for private functions, meetings and event trips to Temburong.
At the moment, the management of MV Sentosa has been working closely with the Brunei Tourism Board and travel agencies to provide various tour packages such as the sunset dinner cruise. “This will be the highlight of our packages and departs at 5.30pm,” said the management.
More enticing packages will be introduced in the near future, assured the management.