BRUNEI-MUARA – With more 130,000 visitor arrivals from cruise ships over the past five years, the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) aims to capitalise on a potentially lucrative sub-sector of the tourism industry.
“An average of 15 cruise ships dock every year bringing 400 to 3000 passengers on each cruise,” said MPRT minister YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong on Saturday.
“With the growing number of people choosing to have their vacations on cruise ships, the cruise industry will be a lucrative economy to the tourism sector of Brunei.”
Cruise ships dock at Muara Port, while the nearby Serasa Ferry Terminal receives passenger vessels from Labuan and Sabah.
Between 2014 and 2018, more than 264,000 passengers entered Brunei via the Serasa Ferry Terminal, according to statistics from the Department of Immigration and National Registration.
This includes an annual average of 60,000 foreign travelers from the eastern part of Malaysia.
Speaking at the launch of the ‘Discover Muara’ campaign, the minister said MPRT is working with local travel agents and the Kampung Katok Village Consultative Council to introduce more tours and activities in Muara for cruise passengers on transit in Brunei.
These include jungle trekking at Bukit Tempayan Pisang, which boasts an uninterrupted view of the Brunei Bay; and two caves — Radat Cave and the Harimau Cave — that carry interesting local legends and folklore with them.
As part of the campaign, the Tourism Development Department also wants to highlight Muara and Serasa beaches as a destination for outdoor activities such as picnics, fishing, bicycle rides, barbecues and various water activities.
The Brunei-Australia Memorial Site is also located at Muara Beach where the commemoration of ANZAC day takes places annually on April 25.
YB Dato Hj Ali also encouraged travel agents to work closely with the Kapok Village Consultative Council to promote activities such as cultural performances, handicraft and cooking demonstrations, as well as guided tours to sites in and around the village.
“We are constantly engaging with our stakeholders to actively work together to improve our services, quality and infrastructure, and to work together towards potential public-private partnership,” he said.
This includes catering to the growing demand for multilingual guides following the increase in airline connectivity from national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines.
The minister added that MPRT is working with local education institutions, such as Laksamana College of Business, to deliver a series of training programmes for those interested in working as freelance tour guides and looking to improve their foreign language skills.