| Aziz Idris |
THE rich bio-diversity in the areas of Labi, Teraja and Rampayoh have been identified as the new tourism hot spots for the Belait District similar to the green practices in the Ulu-Ulu Resort, Temburong District.
However, the areas will be marketed with a revised concept which focusses on three tourism areas – sustainable, responsible and inclusive.
This was highlighted by Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong during the fifth day of the 15th Legislative Council session yesterday afternoon.
He said this in response to a suggestion made by LegCo member and Village Head of Kampong Labi 1 Yang Berhormat Hanapi bin Mohd Siput on privatisation of parks to improve the quality of tourism products in Mukim Labi and the surrounding areas.
Yang Berhormat Hanapi stated that Brunei has a tremendous potential in the eco-tourism industry due to its vast amount of pristine jungles around the country, asking, “Why don’t we privatise some potential parks (in Teraja) for developers to improve tourism product?”
According to the minister, the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) is looking to provide better infrastructure in areas in Labi or Rampayoh for a centralised base for tour agents to operate and registrations of visitors.
With the establishment of a centralised base within the area, the minister said it will help control the number of visitors into Teraja as well as help protect the natural habitat for wild animals, retain the natural architecture of the forest and improve the socio-economy of the local villages.
According to a recent study by wildlife experts, the number of wild animals spotted in the Temburong District has declined in recent years due to over-development which has crossed deeper within the forest.
This will not be the case for Teraja, the minister explained, as the new tourism hot spots will aim to become a sanctuary for all wild animals, especially migrating animals from neighbouring states.
He said the ministry has also identified around 40 waterfalls in the surrounding areas of Teraja, some of which are easily accessible by short trekking. However, he was quick to point out that strict guidelines are in place to ensure the tourism focusses are obeyed.
He gave an example whereby certain number of waterfalls will be temporarily out of limit for visitors so as to maintain the area and facilitate rehabilitation of natural ecosystem.
He believed that tourists are increasingly looking for destinations that allow them to connect with nature, and Teraja has all the right attributes. He reminded tourism developers to always maintain best practices when promoting tourism activities, especially those involving nature-based tourism.
Teraja is a two-hour drive from Bandar Seri Begawan via Jalan Labi road. Visitors are advised to register at the Teraja Police Station or the nearby longhouse for safety reasons. For first timers, bringing a local guide is strongly advisable before going in for activities in the forest such as trekking or camping.