By Rosli Abidin Yahya
The Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) has helped to bring tourists from China to Sabah, but it can play an even bigger role in helping the state tap into the growing Chinese market.
Sabah Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Karim Bujang said tour operators in the country reportedly receive many Chinese tourists every month, especially those from Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, via RBA.
"We are seeing an influx in Chinese tourists due to RBA," he said. "We can cooperate further, for the benefit of both Sabah and Brunei."
Datuk Karim was speaking to SME traders from Brunei, who were in Sabah to widen their network with Malaysian counterparts, on June 16.
The visitors were also hosted to a dinner and cultural show by the Association of Brunei Community in Sabah (PMBS) at Binsulok Nature Resort, Kg Brunei Membakut.
Datuk Karim also said, "Some 60,000 Brunei visitors have come to Sabah since 2005, and you can do your bit to increase that figure."
He added, "Sabah receives half a million backpackers from Australia, and since RBA flies to Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Darwin, it is a key deliverer of Australian tourists to Sabah."
He called for the strengthening of ties between Bruneians in the Sultanate and the Brunei community in Sabah.
Datuk Karim said being a descendent of the Brunei community in Sabah, he fully agreed for a call towards cultural sharing and exchange between Brunei communities in Brunei and Sabah.
"We must also increase trade and economic activities so as to raise the socio-economic status of the Brunei community, especially those in Sabah."
Meanwhile, PMBS president Datuk Haji Yussof bin Datuk Haji Kassim called for the preparation of tourism, cultural and economic programmes involving the communities in the two countries.
"We have received feedbacks from concerned agencies in Brunei on culture," he added.
Later, the Brunei community in Sabah presented the visitors with song and traditional dance performances as well as gambus and gulingtangan.
The visitors from Brunei, meanwhile, recited poems, syair, performed a silat routine and sang traditional Malay songs at the event.
Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin