Brunei-China tourism cooperation forges ahead

Azlan Othman

Tourism cooperation between Brunei Darussalam and the People’s Republic of China will continue, despite the unprecedented global pandemic situation, as both countries embark on the ‘new normal’, said Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) Hajah Tutiaty binti Haji Abdul Wahab.

“With the availability of online platforms as an alternative, capacity-building programmes have been made possible,” she said during the launch of the Online Chinese Language Tour Guide Training Course at the MPRT yesterday.

“The launch of this invaluable training course prepares us for full-fledged activities once the pandemic eases or ends.

“The online training programme can also enhance their skills to give the best impressions to tourists from the People’s Republic of China, to places of interests in Brunei Darussalam, as tour guides and tourism professionals play important roles in connecting tourists to immerse in the Bruneian culture, heritage and nature, as well as experience local Bruneian delicacies, she added.”

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong, meanwhile, said, “This training course is part of the activities of the ‘China-Brunei Year of Tourism’, which is an important consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and 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 further enhance the friendship between the two peoples and promote the all-round development of China-Brunei strategic and cooperative partnership.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism Hajah Tutiaty binti Haji Abdul Wahab and Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong during the launch ceremony. PHOTOS: MPRT
Participants during a briefing by Sandra Bui San San

“In January this year, the opening ceremony of the China-Brunei Year of Tourism was held in Bandar Seri Begawan. The two heads of state sent congratulatory messages respectively to the event, and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attended the opening ceremony.

“Due to the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak, the activities under the China-Brunei Year of Tourism were not able to proceed as planned. In the face of the serious challenge of the epidemic, the peoples of our two countries have carried forward the traditional friendship, given full play to the kampong spirit and extended a helping hand to each other. His Majesty sent a message to the Chinese leaders in China’s difficult time.”

She added, “Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the number of inbound Chinese tourists has plummeted. Brunei’s travel agencies and hotel operators have borne the brunt. The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism has spared no efforts to help the industry.

“We believe that, when conditions permit, Chinese tourists will visit Brunei again. Some of the ‘China-Brunei Year of Tourism’ activities are to be postponed, as agreed by both sides. However, the Chinese Tour Guide Training Course…is among the efforts to explore more possibilities for cultural exchanges under the ‘new normal’.

“The year of 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Brunei. And Brunei will assume the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN. New and greater opportunities abound for both China-Brunei and China-ASEAN relations.”

The programme is held from November 2 to 13, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, and the China Youth Travel Service (CYTS) in the People’s Republic of China.

The virtual training programme serves as a platform for local tour guides and tourism professionals to further improve their skills in communication, as well as the Chinese Language. Twenty-four licensed tour guides and representatives of travel agents are participating in the workshop.