BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei wants to cash in on the growing sports tourism industry after compiling a list of adventure sports available in the sultanate.
Collaborating with tourism service providers and travel tour operators, the government identified 15 sports and adventure activities in a brochure that was launched on Thursday.
The activities range from mountain biking to abseiling, hiking and camping, water sports and diving, archery, golfing, and birdwatching.
The US$488.5 billion sports tourism industry is one of the fastest growing segments of the global travel industry.
Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong said the government has not set a target on the number of sports tourists but is aiming to reach 300,000 tourist arrivals this year.
In 2018, Brunei received 278,136 international tourist arrivals, a 7.4 percent increase from the previous year, an indication of a positive trend in tourism development in the country.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the brochure launch, the minister said the brochure will continue to be revised to include new activities. The brochure will act as a platform for tourism service providers and travel tour operators to showcase their products and services, he added.
The activities will also be added as part of the annual Brunei December Festival, a month-long festival to encourage Bruneians to stay and spend their money in the country.
In his opening remarks, YB Dato Hj Ali urged service providers and travel tour operators to care for the safety and well-being of visitors. In addition to enforcing safety measures for outdoor activities, he added that it is also important to ensure there is little to zero negative impact on the environment and on wildlife and marine life.
“Service operators and providers must ensure this at all times and remind their clients that the preservation of our environment is also just as important as the preservation of our health and safety,” he said.
YB Dato Hj Ali launched the brochure along with Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin.
The event also featured an exhibition of the tourism service providers and operators.
Founder of Sumbiling Eco Village, Leslie Chiang told The Scoop that that they have received over 1,000 visitors this year.
Only 30 percent of their visitors are locals and Leslie is optimistic that the number will increase as they continue to push for their hiking and cultural activities through BDF and the newly-launched brochure.
“So far this year we have more than 1,000 visitors. The number of visitors per month varies between 100-200 visitors with the summer months, June to August recording the highest number of visitors,” he said. Sumbiling Eco Village is a community-based tourism initiative.
Hj Muhd Abu Hurairah Hj Zainal, trail leader for Katimahar Agripark, is eyeing 20,000 visitors to the park per year.
The 250-acre park was established in 2017 and offers visitors packages for all-terrain vehicle (ATV) off-road adventure. They also offer family homestay and camping. From 2017 to 2019, the park recorded 3,000 to 4,000 international visitors and over 6,000 domestic visitors, mostly from companies and schools on outings and field trips.
“People say that there nothing much to do here, actually we have many activities…we want to show them the fun side of Brunei,” he said.