Sunday, June 10, 2007

Brunei, Maldives mull tourism cooperation

BRUNEI and Maldives plan to share ideas and work closely together to further develop their tourism sectors by taking advantage of similarities in their cultures, natural resources and creed.

"We both are going in the same direction," said the Deputy Minister of Maldives' Ministry of Tourism Abdul Hameed Zakariyya during a visit to the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources yesterday.

Abdul Hameed is in the sultanate for a familiarisation trip and discussions on tourism development with Bruneian counterparts.

"We are trying to build our tourism around strengths" similar to those of Brunei, he said. Government officials from both countries will be learning from each other on ways to create and market tourism products, and spread their benefits to the rest of the population, added Abdul Hameed.

He explained Maldives has a small budget to work with, but it is spent as efficiently as possible to increase tourism receipts.

Brunei Tourism Development Board CEO Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed presented various strategies of the sultanate to develop its tourism sector yesterday.

He highlighted some of the strengths of Brunei, which include peace and order, and safety.

The board is also looking to capitalise on the longest strand of beach on Borneo.

Also mentioned were marathon events held in Brunei which is the second richest in Asia. It offers a $500,000 first prize reward, making its marathon events attractive to runners from all over the globe.

Brunei has begun attracting locals to tourist sites within the sultanate under the Kenali Negara Kita (Knowing Your Country) campaign, while Maldives has yet to work on boosting its domestic tourism.

The domestic tourism campaign is aimed at reducing the number of Bruneians going abroad for their holidays, and reduce dependence on foreign tourists.

This, according to local tourism officials, benefits the rest of the economy, with more jobs generated for locals.

Sheikh Jamaluddin also explained that previously the sultanate faced difficulties in its tourism branding, with people unaware of the country, and have tackled this issue through the board's marketing strategies.

The board has also participated in various trade shows overseas, up to 24 a year.

Brunei, moreover, can learn a thing or two from Maldives' efforts related to the commissioning of two archaeologists to help the government identify potential sites for tourism, according to Abdul Hameed.

The Maldives' Deputy Minister and Assistant Director General of the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation will be in Brunei for a three-day familiarisation trip, aimed to discuss joint opportunities within the tourism sector.

Source: The Brunei Times

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