Friday, December 14, 2007

Brunei's window to world tourism

By Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam's entry into the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) opens up a window of opportunity to acquire technical expertise and human resource development training.

Mr Francesco Frangialli, Secretary General of UNWTO, met with the Brunei Tourism Board yesterday, notably the CEO of Brunei Tourism, Sheikh Jamaluddin, to explore areas of cooperation.

There are lessons to be learnt from oil and gas nations like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia who are on the road to become important players in tourism.

"The oil and gas industry will not create employment forever and I shared the experience we have and to cooperate with UNWTO," Mr Frangialli told the media.

Brunei became one of the new UNWTO members during the 17th session of the UNWTO General Assembly which was held from Nov 22 to 29 this year in Colombia.

This will assist the sultanate in measuring the economic benefits of promoting tourism.

This observation was made by Mr Frangialli, who was speaking to the media yesterday after his meeting with Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Dr Awg Hj Ahmad, Deputy Minister Dato Paduka Hj Hamdillah and Permanent Secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid.

Being the 151st member of UNWTO, he said Brunei now has a benchmark to gauge its progress in the tourism industry.

"Tourism creates a lot of jobs for the younger generation, assists in economic diversification and (leads to) a stable economy," the UNWTO Secretary General said, adding that tourism was expanding very fast in the Asia-Pacific region.

While tourism can bring about a lot of good things, Mr Frangialli cautioned that it could also have a negative impact on the social cultural balance and environment of a country. "We have already explored possible areas of cooperation (with Brunei)," he said.

Sheikh Jamaluddin said: "The UNWTO can help us to maintain a tourism satellite account (so that) we know where we stand in terms of economic progress for tourism."

He added that was the reason why Brunei joined the organisation. "In any business, if we can't measure, we can't manage," the CEO of Brunei Tourism said.

Mr Frangialli is in Brunei for a two-day visit. He recently attended a business lunch with Brunei Tourism Board members, and visited the Sultanate's main tourist attractions such as the picturesque Water Village, Royal Regalia and the Selirong Recreational Park, where proboscis monkeys can be found.

Frangialli said that with tourism rising rapidly in the Asia-Pacific region and the prospect of millions of Chinese tourists roving in the region, Brunei ought to define its priorities early.

UNWTO is a specialised agency of the UN and the leading international organization in tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and practical issue of tourism know-how. UNWTO plays a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries.

UNWTO currently has a membership of 157 countries and territories, as well as over 300 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

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