KUCHING: The Brunei government has agreed to join Sarawak in enhancing tourism connectivity between the sultanate and the northern region of the state.
Permanent secretary to Ministry of Tourism Datu Ik Pahon disclosed that the agreement came from a closed-door discussion with his ministry and ministerial officials of the neighbouring country.
“The discussion raised several issues on how both can benefit from these activities and boost tourism especially for the towns of Miri and Limbang,” he told reporters before the two government’s ministerial officials adjourned to the dinner hosted by the Sarawak government at a leading hotel on Wednesday.
“The discussion was carried out between our state government represented by the Minister of Tourism Sarawak Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg while Brunei was represented by Minister of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar,” he added.
Ik Pahon also disclosed how Brunei can be the connectivity hub in the northern region through its international flight connections to become an entry point for tourists who then can enter Sarawak.
“This is because the country’s official airline Royal Brunei Airline (RBA) flies to and from Melbourne and also from Brunei to and from London. The idea is that if these passengers can stop in Brunei for two to three days, then they can visit Miri and also Limbang by hinterland transport,” he enthused.
“If this is implemented, then this flight connectivity can bring in tourists to spend time here and help our eco-tourism and other tourism products in the northern region,” he added.
He also said to ensure that the present discussion is fruitful, a task force from Brunei and the state government will be formed to see how this can be implemented for the mutual benefit of the two countries in tourism.
The other issue discussed in the nearly half an hour meeting between the royal state and the Sarawak government was the border crossing, especially at the Sg Tujuh immigration check-point and customs.
Ik said no decision was made but both ministers agreed that their ministries will take up these matters to be discussed at administrative level on how to address the issue.
The idea is how to make travel seamless, on how to overcome the issue of daily crossing of vehicles and buses at this border point and to let tourists enter and exit Brunei for Sarawak with ease, he said.
He also said that they will bring in the relevant agencies like immigration and customs departments to join the task force group for further discussion with the officials from Brunei.
Also present were Brunei Consul to Sarawak Kamsari Noordin, Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talip Zulpilip, Assistant Minister of Communication and Sports Datuk Lee Kim Shin and State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Ghani and officials from both ministries and invited VIPs from Sarawak and Malaysian tourism agencies.