Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020 launched

Aziz Idris

The joint tourism year initiative between Brunei Darussalam and the People’s Republic of China was officially launched last night at the Arts Centre of Jerudong International School.

Present to officiate the event was Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attending as the guest of honour.

Also present was Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz bin Pengiran Jaya Negara Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar, Chief of Adat Istiadat Negara.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin witnessed the officiating event. The Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020 aims to provide a platform to strengthen tourism cooperation through people-to-people and cultural exchanges, enhance bilateral cooperation, capacity building and furthering collaboration and partnership between the two countries.

The year-long event is also an opportunity to build wider business and trade connections in other areas beyond tourism.

In his speech, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong read out a congratulatory message from His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, on the occasion of Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020.

The message stated His Majesty lauding the initiatives which represent a new opportunity for both countries to further deepen the longstanding, warm and close friendship based on the strong foundation of mutual trust, respect and understanding.

Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rings a gong at the event.
Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz bin Pengiran Jaya Negara Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar, Chief of Adat Istiadat Negara in a group photo. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
One of the cultural performances during the event

His Majesty in the message also stated that the tourism industry is an important sector in Brunei Darussalam’s economic diversification efforts. The People’s Republic of China is a valuable tourist market for Brunei Darussalam, which is further enhanced by the increase in connectivity with various cities across China.

“I am happy that both our officials have made significant preparations to ensure this year-long event is a great success. This will strengthen economic growth, enhance our people-to-people exchanges, and bring mutual benefits to our countries. Brunei Darussalam will be proud to share its diverse cultural and traditional heritage as well as its pristine rainforests rich in flora and fauna that visitors can experience while in Brunei Darussalam,” said His Majesty in the message.

According to the minister, China, being one of the top source markets for tourist arrivals for Brunei, had recorded 43,000 tourist arrivals by July 2019. The minister also revealed that in 2018, Brunei saw an increase of 21.1 per cent with 65,563 tourist arrivals from China in comparison to 2017 with Chinese tourist arrivals of 54,125.

The minister expects that tourist traffic and economic growth between the two countries will be boosted with the launch of the Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020, together with direct and increased air connectivity between the two countries, such as the newly launched route of Royal Brunei Airlines to Beijing.

Meanwhile, the Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China Zhang Xu also conveyed a congratulatory message from Chinese President Xi Jinping to mark the occasion in which he said that during the past two years, both leaders had successfully exchanged visits, and agreed to upgrade China-Brunei relations to a strategic cooperative partnership.

“Our two countries also pledged to be good partners featuring mutual trust in politics, mutual benefit in economy, mutual understanding in people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and mutual assistance in multilateral affairs,” read the message from the Chinese President.He also hoped that the initiatives will increase people-to-people and cultural exchanges as sincere and good friends and as trusted partners for common development.

In her remarks, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong said the initiatives are an opportunity to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in various fields, strengthen China-Brunei strategic cooperative partnership and prepare for the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Brunei in 2021. “I believe the Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020 will further enhance the mutual understanding between the two peoples,” she added.

The ceremony also saw cultural performances by both nations. The performance by the People’s Republic of China included those from the Hui race, China’s most populous Muslim race along with traditional Chinese music ‘Moonlit Night on the Spring River’ while the Bruneian side saw folk dances such as the Joget and the Jipin Tar.