| Hakim Hayat |
COMMUNITY leaders and residents at the grassroots levels are encouraged to come up with unique tourism products and activities so it can be included in tourism packages promoted to visitors, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong remarked in Parliament yesterday.
The minister was responding to a suggestion by Legislative Council (LegCo) member representing Belait District Zone 1 and Penghulu of Mukim Liang Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid bin Haji Mumin for the Tourism Development Department to start conducting workshops and courses on tourism guidelines for Mukim and Village Consultative Councils to help them come up with their own tourism products to diversify the country’s tourism product offering.
On the fifth day of the 15th LegCo session, the minister in his response disclosed that although no such initiative is in place, a number of mukims and villages have taken their own initiatives in offering tourism products to attract visitors to their areas, such as Kampong Tanjong Maya, Kiudang, Teraja, Sungai Bunga, Katimahar and Kapok.
“Their penghulus or village heads are spearheading these initiatives and are active in promoting their own tourism products. This is where the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) with other relevant agencies as well as travel agents can give support by including their products as a package,” he added.
The minister cited the recently launched initiative in Pekan Muara, ‘Destination Muara’, which takes into account the vast village level activities encompassing cultural, traditional cuisine and handicrafts in the area that can be consolidated to become a tourist destination, especially for cruise ship passengers arriving at Muara Port.
“These are all initiatives by the villages and always has the support from the relevant ministries,” he added.
He also called on travel agencies in the country to continue working with the mukims and villages to include potential and attractive destinations as part of a package that can be included in guide books for tourists’ options.
The minister also said that grassroots leaders are very much encouraged to merge various activities in their areas that has the potential to be marketed as tourist attractions, citing examples such as the tea-making business in Kampong Kiudang, Tutong and agricultural activities in other parts of the districts such as in Kampong Tanjong Maya that have been made into one package for tourists.
These packages, the minister added, give tourists more choice and will save their time as they don’t have to visit different places to get the experience. He added having more visitors also means socio-economic benefits for the areas as they can purchase handicrafts, dine in at local restaurants and even experience homestays at the villages.
“We don’t want to force any one to do this but if anyone shows some intention and are passionate about it, we will give them our full support to help promote their tourism products,” he added.