A month-long line-up of events has been planned for December to entice Bruneians to spend and vacation within the country, a senior official from the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) has said.

The initiative, dubbed the Brunei December Festival, will be held annually, and for 2017, there will be over 30 events ranging from talent shows to cooking competitions and even an endurance obstacle course race.

“This is a zero government budget initiative where we work closely with event organisers and other stakeholders… There will be something for everyone and we hope that it will be an annual event where tourists will come too,” Wardi Haji Mohammad Ali, MPRT deputy permanent secretary, told media last week.

According to a 2013 report published by the Oxford Business Group, Bruneians spent more than $1.2 billion during holidays to various Malaysian cities in 2011.

The aim of the Brunei December Festival is to stage attractive events that will rope more locals to stay in the country during the year-end break.

The ministry is also looking to advertise the festival overseas. Wardi said that MPRT has distributed brochures to Royal Brunei Airlines and foreign missions in the sultanate.

Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism Wardi Hj Mohammad Ali (C), during a briefing with the media. Photo: Hadthiah Hazair

“We will market (the Brunei December Festival) more aggressively in November, after His Majesty’s Golden Jubilee celebrations,” he added.

A ‘Festival Insider Guide’ booklet will be distributed early November so the public can see what events are available throughout the month.

The Alpha Challenge — an endurance race divided into a 2.5km obstacle course and a 5km obstacle course at Berakas Recreational Forest Reserve — has already signed up over 100 participants, according to event organiser Sunlit Advertising Sdn Bhd.

“At the moment we have received applicants from Malaysians in neighbouring states. We are targeting around 1,000 participants for this race,”Lee Kan Seng, a representative from Sunlit, told The Scoop.

“Some of our most challenging obstacles include the monkey bars and the tyre climb,” Lee said, adding that they are planning to turn the race into an annual event in conjunction with the Brunei December Festival.

Another sure-fire hit is the Brunei Film Blitz, a short film competition that allows participants to submit a film of any genre, as long as it is shot in Brunei. Organised by the Origin Artistics Management, the contest will culminate in a red carpet event where winning the entries will be screened.

The organiser is calling on aspiring filmmakers in Brunei and abroad to submit their entries for a chance to win up to $10,000.

Other fun events staged during the month-long festival include Brunei’s first mass wedding called “Mahligai Impian”, as well as a inter-district cycling expedition organized by Persekutuan Basikal Brunei Darussalam.

With the Brunei December Festival, MPRT is aiming to meet the nation’s 2020 target of bringing international airport arrivals up to 400,000. At the end of In 2016, Brunei recorded 218,809 international arrivals.