Sailing tours can draw in more tourists to Brunei

Sailing tours can draw in more tourists to Brunei
Participants in the Regatta Brunei Darussalam 2012 held at Brunei River, January 22, 2012. A travel industry executive said yesterday Brunei is an ideal site for sailing tours.
PHOTO: Brunei Times/ANN

BRUNEI can develop sailing trips into a niche tourism product as it already has some resources to attract tourists.

Allan Riches, managing director of Intrepid Tours, said Brunei's clean and accessible harbour areas and its policy to allow the tax-free importation of boat equipment and parts, make the Sultanate a good destination for sailing tours.

"We have a very pleasant and protected harbour area that's clean, easy to access. You can see all the boats here, they can just come in and anchor. It's quite convenient," he told The Brunei Times.

The protected Brunei Bay is also an ideal area for learning how to sail or drive a boat, he added.

"So if Brunei can become something of a focal point for these tourists then there are clearly opportunities to be made," Riches said.

He proposed the establishment of a top-class marina to enable yachts and boats to dock and harbour on Brunei waters.

"Brunei actually has one of the best boating recreation environments on this part of the coast because you are in this sort of protected environment and you've got all the benefits of being in Brunei in terms of low-cost, the ability to get parts here for cheap," he said.

Riches said the BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council has been trying to promote the region as a sailing destination.

It has introduced the 'Sail BIMP-EAGA' which is an annual programme of yacht cruises designed to help travellers explore and enjoy the cultural and natural heritage attractions across the BIMP-EAGA destinations.

The Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) comprises of Brunei, Kalimantan and Sulawesi in Indonesia; the federal states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Eastern Malaysia; and the islands of Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines.

The BIMP-EAGA includes key environmental preservation regions including the Coral Triangle and the Heart of Borneo.

The Coral Triangle is a marine area located in the western Pacific Ocean which includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands, according to global wildlife conservation organisation WWF.

It contains 76 per cent of the known species of coral in the world and 37 per cent of all reef fish species.

Studies have shown that the Sultanate stands a chance at joining neighbouring countries in the Coral Triangle, an area known to be the world's richest concentration of iridescent corals, fish, crustaceans, molluscs and marine plants, at the same time be recognised internationally for its marine biodiversity.

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