Tour of Tutong’s tourist treasures

James Kon

As part of the post COVID-19 plan, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong hoped for a boost in the quality of hospitality services for restaurants and hotels as well as frequently visited places while instilling the values of the Malay Islam Monarchy (MIB), thus giving an unforgettable experience for tourists.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali in an interview following a working visit to several tourist attractions in the Tutong District said, “Since March this year, Brunei Darussalam has imposed a travel ban to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country. We have assessed a number of tourist destinations to ensure that the facilities are safe and clean as well as convenient for public utilisation when tourists return to the country.”

He said a number of issues have been identified for improvement in terms of safety including jetties at rivers and cleanliness at a number of locations.

“Insya Allah, those who manage the facilities will be informed and be given time to renovate before tourists arrive in the future,” he said.

The minister revealed, “We have plans to increase the quality of services at restaurants and hotels as well as museums and places frequently visited by tourists and instill the values of MIB like how we greet guests when they arrive by saying ‘selamat datang’ (welcome) and treat the guests by offering drinks and food, respecting the guest. We also must say ‘terima kasih’ (thank you), as well as accompany the guest to the front door when they leave.”

Refering to the hospitality services, the minister iterated, “We must showcase the best traditions to tourists so that they will cherish their memories of our traditions and this will entice them to return to the country again”.

The minister visited Sungai Tutong signage landmark, the Lanes Hotel, and a community-based tourist attraction in Kampong Bukit Udal during the working visit.

Legislative Council members representing Tutong District, Acting Penghulu of Mukim Pekan Tutong Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Wahab bin Apong and Penghulu of Mukim Telisai Yang Berhormat Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit. Acting Permanent Secretary and Deputy Permanent Secretary (Tourism) at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, Tutong District Officer, representatives from the Tutong District Tourism Promotion and Coordination Body, and officials from the Tourism Development Department were also present.

ABOVE & BELOW: Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong watches a Dusun traditional warrior dance demonstration; and the minister during the visit to the Homestay Alai Gayoh Anak Pulau. PHOTOS: JAMES KON

The working visit began with a visit to the Sungai Tutong signage landmark, where the minister was briefed by Peter Wong of Stratacom Global Sdn Bhd on the Tutong River waterfront development proposal, which is a private sector initiative, as one of the efforts to assist with the development and to stimulate economic growth in the Tutong District, particularly the tourism sector.

The minister then proceeded to The Lanes Hotel in Kampong Petani where a briefing was conducted by Manager Jasmine Sim. The Lanes Hotel was registered as a tourist accommodation premises earlier this year offering different types of rooms equipped with amenities. The hotel also provides facilities such as restaurants, a ballroom for meetings and events, a fitness centre and a 24-hour front desk and room service. The hotel’s workforce comprises 80 per cent locals thus supporting the localisation effort in the private sector.

The working visit ended at Alai Gayoh Anak Pulau, Bukit Kukub which is a community-based tourism attraction in Kampung Bukit Udal.

The activities conducted at Homestay Alai Gayoh Anak Pulau supports the One Village One Product (1K1P) Project which, among others, aims to make the village and its community more creative and innovative as well as creating employment opportunities for locals.

Alai gayoh is literally translated as ‘big house’. The house was built in 2010 as an architectural replica of traditional Dusun homes. The house Alai Gayoh Anak Pulau collaborates with the Kampong Bukit Udal Village Consultative Council (MPK) by offering nature activities, hiking and local handicrafts in promoting Kampong Bukit Udal as a tourist destination. About 200 people visited the place last year, including researchers studying the surrounding forests.

At Homestay Alai Gayoh Anak Pulau, the minister was greeted by a representative of the establishment Eyad Samhan bin Nyawa.

He participated in a discussion with MPK Kampong Bukit Udal members on the potential of community-based tourism activities.

The working visit is one of the ministry’s continuous engagements with stakeholders to strengthen and promote tourism products available in Brunei Darussalam. The ministry continues to promote the concept of sustainable, responsible and inclusive tourism with emphasis on the safety, hygiene and security of all places of interests in the country.

“The objective of visiting Tutong District is to personally take a closer look at the potential in the field of tourism. We visited Pekan Tutong whereby a private sector is proposing to develop the commercial area with the concept of eco-tourism across the river. The proposal will be updated to see if it can be realised with the support of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism,” the minister said.

“Alai Gayoh Anak Pulau has the potential to be turned into a community-based tourism destination that specifically showcases the traditions and culture of the Dusun community including traditional Dusun cuisine. We encourage the villagers here to further build on this initiative to become a popular tourist destination in the Tutong District.”