With Brunei Darussalam having identified Islamic tourism as a strategy to expand the tourism sector and diversify the economy, the kingdom’s tourism stakeholders are fine-tuning strategies and enhancing tour programmes to lure more visitors to the country.
Islamic tourism in Brunei Darussalam spans the local way of life or sightseeing at some of the mosques that represent the culture and heritage of Brunei, said Salinah Salleh, head of promotion and marketing at Brunei Tourism.
The major attractions for Islamic Tourism in Brunei Darussalam include a tour of the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, Darul ‘Ifta Building that exhibits Islamic artefacts, The Royal Mausoleum, Brunei History Centre among others.
Salinah shared: “Brunei Tourism has been continuously working closely with the Ministry of Religious Affairs to enhance the product offerings to attract tourists to come for the purpose of Islamic Tourism. Calligraphy activities and Al-Quran reading classes have also been offered. These activities are considered as value-add to the normal travel itinerary, such as visiting mosques and Islamic gallery.
“The month of Ramadhan is a very enlightening time to visit giving a unique insight into the country’s Islamic activities and local culture.”
The main source markets for Islamic Tourism, he said, are Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Brunei Tourism supports inbound agents promoting Islamic tours by providing materials as well as facilitating on potential Islamic tourism products and tours that would be of interest to their clients.
Freme Travel Services is an inbound tour operator selling Islamic Experience tour packages in Brunei that showcase the Sultanate’s Malay Islamic monarchy and give an insight into Malay culture and heritage and how Islam as a religion is practiced.
Sugumaran Nair, manager, inbound & MICE division at Freme Travel Services said the Islamic sightseeing tours offered at the company and have been well received by the Malaysian, Singaporean and Indonesian Muslim visitors, who make up the bulk of demand for such tours.
Year to date, the company saw a 10 per cent year on year growth.
In 2018, Freme Travel will include The Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Islamic Exhibition Gallery, expected to be open by then. The gallery will house over 1,000 Islamic manuscripts and artefacts owned by the Sultan of Brunei. There will also be research facilities available in the building.
Another new package that will be introduced in 2018 is Muslim Youth Camps. Spiritual activities such as Islamic lectures and attending mass prayers will be part of the itinerary. Youths will stay within the mosque grounds for the entire duration of the programme.