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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    28  July  2016  

Brunei can tap global Islamic tourism market

BRUNEI is in a unique position to promote Islamic heritage tourism, the Oxford Business Group (OBG) said in its latest report.

In its latest publication The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2016, OBG said Brunei is the world’s only Malay Islamic Monarchy and promoting Islamic tourism can expand the sultanate’s tourism sector and diversify the economy.

OBG said promoting Islamic tourism will also give Brunei the opportunity to promote Islam and the country’s image around the world. It added the sultanate can also market itself as a tourist destination during Ramadhan and as a stopover for Muslims going on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Spending on travel and hospitaility by Muslim travellers is expected to reach US$200 billion worldwide by 2020 said OBG, citing the Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index 2015. OBG said Brunei can get a slice of that lucrative market.

“Adherence to syariah law will prove to be an attractive marketing tool for building Brunei Darussalam’s Islamic tourism market. Brunei was rated 10 on the 2015 GMTI top-10 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation destinations,” OBG said.

OBG cited the recent UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) study which said more Muslims are travelling to other Islamic countries. While Asia is rich in Islamic heritage sites, the UNWTO study noted many of Asia’s monuments, parks and museums are not being adequately preserved and maintained.

“Such preservation is essential in order to reap the full potential of Islamic tourism,” OBG said citing the UNWTO study.

Brunei, however, is working to preserve its Islamic heritage. OBG cited the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Islamic Exhibition Gallery (BPIS) — which will be completed next year — will house about 1,000 Islamic manuscripts and hundreds of artefacts.

“The BPIS will provide a safe space in which to preserve and showcase the valuable exhibits, and will also act as an archive where scholars may conduct research on Islamic history and culture,” OBG said.

Apart from heritage preservation, OBG said Brunei also needs to ensure that visitors can easily get more information on its Islamic tourism products to attract more travellers to the sultanate.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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