Bandar Seri Begawan – Tourism has always been deemed a strong front-runner in Brunei’s ambition towards economic diversification and the Abode of Peace’s palate for such an endeavour has expanded to include the showcasing of the country’s Islamic wealth in the hope of attracting Muslims and non-Muslims from around the region and beyond.
With cooperation from the State Mufti’s Office, the Tourism Department under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources has developed a new package that aims to showcase to the world not only Brunei’s culture and way of life, but also its unique collection of Islamic artefacts including those from His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s personal collection.
The move to open the “Islamic door” to tourists was discussed last year during the Asean Tourism Forum where the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin ‘Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, held discussions with the Malaysian Minister ofTourism Dato’ Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen on developing collaboration that emphasises the strong characteristics both countries have in common.
In an interview with the Borneo Bulletin, MIPR Permanent Secretary Dato Paduka Dr Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, shared that the Islamic Tourism initiative is the first step towards realising the partnership with Malaysia and that the near future will see the combination of both countries’ Islamic products.
By working together, he said, “We will have a stronger impact and thus could spread the message that Islamic tourism is an experience that people must not forgo,” whilst also highlighting that the package would be an added incentive to the other tourism activities that are on offer in both countries.
The Tourism Department has appointed agents in China and Australia to help promote Brunei’s new package whilst still scouting for potential markets through Brunei’s official tourism promoter Darussalam Holdings which has already designed a number of attractive packages to attract more tourists from bigger, and farther, nations.
The future also holds plans to bring in more artefacts to add to the country’s collection, Dato Paduka Amin Liew shared.
Tourism CEO, Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohammed, said that Brunei targets 20 per cent more tourists in 2011 as opposed to last year’s goal of seven per cent and believed that the Islamic Tourism package will help realise this vision considering that millions of the Islamic community reside here in Asean itself and added that one per cent of the target population is “already a lot.