BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism will be developing Mukim Labi in Belait into a sustainable eco-friendly centre for tourism activities, hoping to give visitors access to attractions in Labi, Bukit Teraja and Rempayoh.

Speaking at the Legislative Council meeting last week, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong, said that the ministry wants to turn the area into a tourist destination akin to Ulu Ulu Temburong National Park.

He noted that the concept will be different from Ulu Ulu Temburong National Park as there is no intention to turn the centre into a resort in order to preserve the forests of Bukit Teraja. The minister did not disclose a timeline for the project.

“[By doing this] we will not be causing damage to the environment. We aim to attract more wildlife into the area, even those from beyond our borders so that Teraja will become a [wildlife] sanctuary.”

He added: “Based on our experience in Temburong, according to a number of wildlife experts, tourists have seen a decrease in wildlife sightings due to the urban development that has encroached the interior of the district”.

YB Dato Hj Ali said that the development concept for Labi is based on “sustainable, responsible and inclusive” tourism, with emphasis on safeguarding the natural environment within the area and preserving the diversity of wildlife and welfare of residents.

According to the minister, the centre will also be used to register tourists who wish to enter Bukit Teraja, which is home to around 40 waterfalls.

Not all Teraja waterfalls will be open to the public, but a handful of sites will be opened in turn, with plans for different waterfalls to be made accessible to the public each week.

“At the moment, we are looking into areas in Labi or Rempayoh, to find a suitable area to erect this centre where travel agents are able to bring tourists, before they proceeded to the tourism activities offered, whether its to go to Teraja, Merangking or even just within the areas of Labi”.

YB Dato Hj Ali then stressed that the government will will not be offering forested sites to developers, in order to conserve Brunei’s natural resources.

“We are trying to cautiously develop our recreational forests that have become national assets for our tourists to enjoy,” he said.