BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – About 800 tourism officials and exhibitors are expected to gather in Brunei for the 39th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2020 from January 12 to 16.

The Tourism Development Department in a statement said the ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting will take place as part of ATF 2020, while national tourism organisations from the region will also meet in the sultanate.

Themed “ASEAN – Together Towards a Next Generation of Travel”, the annual forum will also see the selling and buying of tourism products of each ASEAN member state in the Travel Exchange (TRAVEX).

TRAVEX, slated from January 14-16, aims to provide business-matching opportunities for suppliers of tourism products and services in ASEAN and for international buyers to meet and foster business relationships.

The statement added that 263 ASEAN exhibitors and 144 international buyers will participate in TRAVEX.

The ministers’ meeting will take place at The Empire Brunei while TRAVEX will be held at the Brunei Darussalam International Defence Exhibition and Conference Centre in Jerudong.

This will be the third time the forum is held in Brunei. The ASEAN Tourism Forum, which rotates its hosting duties every year, was established in 1981 to promote Southeast Asia as a single tourist destination.

Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020

Brunei will also launch the Brunei-China Year of Tourism 2020 on January 17 at Jerudong International School’s Arts Centre.

The Tourism Development Department said the year-long event aims to provide a platform to strengthen tourism cooperation through cultural exchanges, bilateral cooperation and collaboration between both countries.

The event also aims to build wider business and trade connections in other areas beyond tourism, the statement added.

A business-matching session will also be organised between travel agencies from the two countries to boost China’s tourist arrivals to the sultanate.

China is one of the top tourism markets for Brunei with 43,000 tourist arrivals from January to July 2019.

Last year, Chinese tourist arrivals increased 21.1 percent with 65,563 arrivals compared to 54,125 in 2017.

The department hopes the initiative, coupled with direct and increased air connectivity between the two countries, will boost tourist traffic and economic growth.

Meanwhile, restaurant operators in the country have been trained in customer service for two months in preparation for ATF 2020.

The Tourism Development Department said it briefed members of the Association of Travel Agents and Brunei Association of Hotels on ATF 2020, including the importance of quality service and hospitality to all guests as well as safety and security.