Festivities, events help boost tourism

|     Danial Norjidi     |

THE Brunei December Festival is an example of a successful public-private partnership, and is an initiative that should be continued towards having a positive impact on the advancement of the tourism industry in Brunei Darussalam.

These were among the points highlighted in the afternoon session of the 15th Legislative Council session yesterday.

Legislative Council member and Penghulu of Mukim Berakas ‘B’ Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Ali bin Pengiran Maon congratulated those responsible for the Brunei December Festival 2018, and asked how far the festival was able to contribute to the increase of tourist arrivals in Brunei.

In response, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong shared that the Brunei December Festival was first held in 2017, and then for a second time in 2018.

“As we know, it is a new event organised by the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) through the Tourism Development Department and also the Brunei Tourism Board,” he said. “It is an example where public-private partnership (PPP) activities ran well, without government spending.”

Legislative Council member and Penghulu of Mukim Berakas ‘B’ Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Ali bin Pengiran Maon. – RAHWANI ZAHARI

He highlighted that the Tourism Development Department and Brunei Tourism Board provide a platform for people to get involved in this festival and organise various events, as event managers.

“It is a success beyond expectations where, in 2017, 40 events were held, and in 2018, 60 events were organised.

“When viewing the tourist arrivals for each month, December last year was the month with the second largest number of tourist arrivals in Brunei,” he said.

“It should also be understood that the aim is not only to attract tourists into the country, but also to encourage Bruneian people to be in Brunei by having these event management companies carry out events and invite various people to participate,” he added.

Another to speak on the Brunei December Festival was Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Haji Umarali bin Esung, who said, “The first Brunei December Festival attracted over 90,000 visitors and last year was a bigger and lively event with 60 events organised throughout the month of December to enliven the school holidays alongside attracting more tourists to Brunei.

“This effort and initiative need to be continued so that it can have a positive impact on the progress of the tourism industry in Brunei,” he affirmed. “At the same time, it can be used as a way to encourage people to vacation in their own country.”

He asked whether the festival involves any events which have domestic tours and vacations for introducing places of interest in Brunei to the public.

The minister affirmed that the Brunei December Festival aims to be of great benefit to various stakeholders, including hotels, the national airline, travel agencies and also the public who carry out business in organising events, as well as media and advertisers.

He said that the festival involves all four districts, and that activities take place in each of them, subject to the organisers.

He shared that while many events are carried out in Bandar Seri Begawan due to the large audience, it does not mean that events are not carried out elsewhere, especially at the weekend through Bangarku Ceria, Kbku Ceria and Tutongku Ceria.

He also noted that there were events such as the speedboat racing in the Tutong District, midnight run in the Belait District, as well as cycling and treasure hunt events in the Temburong District.

He said that these activities attracted participation by people from abroad, and thus created further business opportunities for parties involved with the event, including with regards to accommodation.

“We will continue to spread this wider in years to come,” said the minister.

“For example, in the coming December, we hope there will be more participants and that it will involve new events that are fun, enjoyable and involve education and technology sectors, and others.

“This year, we will hold a coding competition, for the public and young people in particular – students from primary, secondary and university level – to take part, whether to create games or provide solutions.”

He said that the ministry has spoken with Universiti Teknologi Brunei to create a concept for the coding competition, and added that while it will start with domestic participants, it is not impossible that it will grow to attract foreign participants, and therefore become a bigger event.