Bandar Seri Begawan - The Sultanate will in the coming months welcome a large contingent of Koreans, who are heading here for the Amway Korea Leadership Seminar, as well as an 18-member high-level investment delegation.
"From November 10 to 26, we are expecting to host 2,400 guests from Korea who will be attending the Amway Korea Leadership Seminar," Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources Mohd Riza bin Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yunos said yesterday at the two-day Asean Tourism Human Resource Development Programme.
"This is indeed a very good opportunity for Brunei tourism, but I also know that hosting a relatively large number of guests at one time will be a real challenge for us. Such challenges include our capacity to host and attend to the needs and requirements of our guests and in making sure that they will go back to Korea with a pleasant and memorable Brunei experience."
He added, "Korea is a Top 10 tourism market for Asean and a very important market for Brunei Darussalam. Korean visitors are welcome to enjoy our pristine nature, and share and experience our unique and rich culture and heritage.
"Tourism is indeed a fiercely competitive market, requiring skills, talents, enterprise and a government that supports it.
"His Majesty's Government recognises the role of tourism and its contribution towards job creation and enhancement of social economic value. Although tourism is not seen as a major driver for Brunei economic development, it is ranked highly as a contributor to the community and social well-being of the populace," he added.
Brunei has completed its Tourism Master Plan which sets the 'strategic direction for developing our tourism industry and identifies two major clusters - Nature, and Cultural and Islamic heritage.
Operationalisation of this master plan would set to double the volume of visitors to Brunei and tourism revenue by the year 2016 and would create over 2,000 additional direct and indirect employment.
"But to us, tourism is more than just socioeconomic well-being. We are proud of our potential because we are proud of our country and what it has to offer.
"Given such development, opportunity and expectations from this year onwards, the Asean-Korea Centre Human Resource Programme comes at a very opportune time in offering avenues where Brunei can better prepare herself and enhance her capacity and ability to offer better services, tailored in this particular case to the needs of the Korean travellers."
Meanwhile, Korean Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Byung Koo Choi said, "Korea-Brunei ties have remarkably expanded. Korea is Brunei's second largest export market.
"Last year, 1,700 tourists from Korea visited Brunei Darussalam, while over 1,300 Bruneians visited Korea last year, which is a big number with respect to the country's population.
"I strongly believe that people to people exchange is crucial to strengthen ties. Another trend is that more Bruneian students are choosing to study in Korea. Ten Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) students left for Korea last month.
"There is potential for Brunei to attract more Korean visitors to the Sultanate."
With regard to Asean-Korea Centre, he explained that a group of Koreans visited the Sultanate last June to organise a seminar for Brunei entrepreneurs to develop their products.
With the arrangement of Asean-Korea Centre, an 18-member investment delegation from Korea will come to Brunei very soon.
Meanwhile, speaking about Korea-Brunei ties, Asean-Korea Centre Secretary General Hae Moon Chung said it is quite encouraging to note that both countries have made innovative and creative efforts to enhance ties through the e-government innovation centre between UBD and the Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology.
With Brunei taking over the chairmanship of Asean next year, the Sultanate will be able to raise Asean's visibility at the global level. Korea looks forward to close cooperation under Brunei's chairmanship.
He was also pleased to note Brunei's cultural shows staged in Korea recently.
Speaking on Hallyu influence (Korean wave), highlighting the popularity of pop culture and Korean entertainment in Brunei Darussalam, he expressed hopes that it can contribute positively and that Bruneians would spend more time watching Korean entertainment.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin