Brunei’s Temburong district is gearing up for more visitors as South-east Asia’s longest overseas bridge nears completion.
The 30km Temburong Bridge and causeway will link the capital Bandar Seri Begawan with the district, eliminating the need for travellers to pass through borders with the Malaysian state of Sarawak and reducing travel time from two hours to less than 30 minutes.
Currently, visitors wanting to get to Temburong from Bandar Seri Begawan must pass through four border checks, and catch a 45-minute speed boat to complete the journey. The B$1.6 billion (US$1.2 billion) bridge will shave 70km off the journey.
Salinah Selleh, acting deputy director of Brunei Tourism’s tourism development department, told TTG Asia: “We hope to see the bridge contribute to a rise in tourism. As well as international visitors, we hope it will lead to an increase in domestic tourism. Not a lot of locals have visited Temburong because it is not easily accessible.”
Salinah added the ministry is working with tour operators in the area to develop full-day to multiple-day packages that will appeal to both international and domestic visitors.
Siti Nur Hazirah Bte Haji Abd Latif, assistant officer of marketing and product development at tour operator Darussalam Holdings, said the bridge will bring opportunities for communities to develop products that will boost the local economy.
This month, Eco-Green Development announced it will start construction on Temburong’s first luxury eco-resort. The B$4.5 million two-hectare project will feature 30 chalet-style villas and is slated to be completed by the end of 2020. The company has pledged a further B$300,000 to refurbish Temburong’s old district office into a tourist information centre.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism also plans to invest B$387,000 into developing a river centre in Batang Duri to service boats cruising to Ulu Temburong National Park.
Hazirah said: “There are a lot of products and attractions that can be developed in Temburong district; with the bridge comes huge potential.”
Tom Chong Tze Tzen, assistant tour supervisor of Freme, welcomed the bridge, claiming it adds flexibility. However, he noted: “Without the speedboat, guests lose the experience of travelling through the mangroves.”