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Detailed tourism logistics needed

With reference to the news article, ‘Bid for tourism excellence’, published in the Bulletin on February 24, 2024, the move by the authorities in highlighting the country’s logistics to become a leading tourism destination is heart-warming, a step forward that hopefully vindicates the promising potential of tourism.

The article gave a glimpse into some sectors that normally make up a good tourism logistics. Maybe soon, the authorities could come up with a detailed and comprehensive tourism plan, implementation schedules and all of its corollary coordination to compose a bona fide tourism logistics.

In any substantive logistics, budgetary estimation, allocation and timing for implementation are clinically crucial. They all need to be put in perspective – doable and result-oriented. To say in a rash that a meagre budget of BND580,000 led to a remarkable 300-per-cent growth in terms of international tourist arrivals compared to 2022, with no mention of specific figures, has really made the claim appear unhinged. Neither is it credible to credit planning that lacks elaboration. A mere mention of market expeditions and promotional campaigns – at home and overseas – to attract a diverse range of tourists and make Brunei a top tourist destination, is really jumping the gun.

The authorities should know better. To be convincing is to be able to substantiate any claim with details of facts and figures. The prioritised elements, such as eco-tourism, heritage, culture and adventure, are presentable in many parts of this country, not only in Temburong District. These elements are big and if managed properly, can be massive attractions for many tourists. But of course, these alone cannot guarantee rapid growth and its long-term sustainability.

Tourism, by nature, is multi-faceted; it must be addressed from all angles to reflect the diverse interest of tourists themselves. It would be too wishful to expect many tourists to come for eco-tourism alone. Or heritage. Or culture. As much as each has potential, it may be taken as a sideline next to others.

That is why our approach cannot be so dogmatic and piecemeal. To find our niche in global tourism, we must be able to offer kaleidoscopic events on a platter.

It is good that a number of collaborations have been initiated to help develop tourism, especially public-private partnerships, which have so far led to a restaurant being set up and a tourist accommodation upgrade in Temburong District.

The same concept must be sought to build golf courses in strategic places including Temburong. Golf tourism is proving itself in many countries to be a key driver in kicking up tourist numbers and many other related sectors. This fact cannot be ignored any longer. In fact, retrospectively, we have had our share of success in attracting thousands of tourists, mainly from South Korea and Japan, to our golf courses and taking up nature programmes in Temburong. All this was done with the collaboration between the tourism authority, a leading hotel and other private companies.

Unfortunately, this success came to a halt at a time when the milieu was even better, with the existence of a bridge connecting Brunei-Muara and Temburong districts. One reason commonly cited for its regression is the limitation of quality golf courses. While the two popular golf courses are rated highly, they are far from adequate in exciting more tourists, with many as families, to continually return.

I hope that through public-private partnership, more high-standard golf courses could be built. With such facilities, followed by other services, multi-faceted tourism could be promoted, widely benefiting eco-tourism, heritage, culture, adventure and investment at the same time.

It may sound pompous but we have been so self-effacing and behind the time when it comes to tapping Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Bridge’s strategic value.

At the end of the day, what is really needed is a detailed tourism logistics comprising a plan, implementation and comprehensive network of domestic and overseas collaborations.

The logistics, made public and accessible, would become reference points for the public and businesses to be engaged in various capacities. Both the authorities and the public would then have a clear picture of its direction, commitment and expectation. – Jerantut

A view of Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Bridge. PHOTO: BB STOCK
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