Lima, Peru. A delegation from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, led by Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Hj Ahmad Bin Hj Jumat, The Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, attended the 5th Tourism Ministerial Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping, held in Lima, Peru’s capital city, from the 9th to the 11th April 2008.
Previous to that, a delegation, led by Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, and by Yang Mulia Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed, Director of the Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, and comprising officials of the Tourism Development Department, Ministry and Brunei Embassy in Washington D.C., attended the 32nd APEC Tourism Working Group meeting, also held in Lima, Peru from 5th to 7th April 2008.
Following the deliberations conducted by Senior Officials during the Tourism Working Group proceedings, the Tourism Ministerial Meeting, held at the J W Marriott hotel in Lima’s seaside district of Miraflores, was officially opened and chaired by Her Excellency Ms Mercedez Araoz, Peru’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism.
Under the PERU APEC 2008 themes of “New Commitment for Asia-Pacific Development” and “Towards Responsible Tourism in the Asia-Pacific Region”, the Meeting discussed on subjects related to the four key policy goals adopted in the Seoul Declaration on the APEC Tourism Chapter, which intend to address issues such as the removal of impediments to tourism business and investment, how to increase mobility of visitors and demand for tourism goods and services, sustainable management of tourism outcomes and impacts, and how to enhance recognition and understanding of tourism as a vehicle for economic and social development.
Possible areas of action urgently needed to be addressed by the APEC economies were identified as those related to the transportation connectivity between member economies, especially between those located on opposite sides of the Pacific.
Other topics covered included, among others, issues related to social inclusion, on which Brunei intervened by informing the Meeting about the current Kenali Negara Kitani (Know Our Country) campaign conducted in Brunei with the aim of involving participation in the tourism economy by all sectors of society, especially in the rural areas and among indigenous communities.
On the topic of the environment and climate change, Brunei highlighted its commitment to the multilateral Heart of Borneo initiative, by which not only protection of continuous rainforest habitats will be achieved, but also preservation of bio-diversity and water catchment areas, development of indigenous communities through ecotourism and other sustainable economic activities, as well as the substantial size of the area tabled to remain under forest cover contributing to the fight against global warming by acting as a carbon sink.
During Brunei’s intervention on the current progress of its tourism industry, Yang Berhormat Pehin stated that Brunei is currently experiencing exciting times in terms of the accelerated pace of growth in tourism arrivals and increased contribution to the country’s goals of economic diversification, making the sector one of the most promising under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, not only because of its earning potential, but also its ability to create huge employment opportunities and as a catalyst for attracting foreign direct investments as well as developing the entrepreneurial spirit among Brunei citizens.
Quoting statistics, Yang Berhormat Pehin informed the meeting that Brunei last year received a total of 178,540 tourists arriving by air, the majority of them coming from APEC region source markets, an increase of 12.9% over the previous year, exceeding the set target of 7% as well as outpacing world and regional growth percentages and contributing some USD93 million in direct tourism revenue. Also highlighted was the strong growth in the number of cruise ships calling on Brunei, which shot up from 4 in 2006 to 24 in 2007 and is expected to reach 30 in 2008, representing several thousand additional tourists visiting the country during shore excursions. Yang Berhormat Pehin remarked that these figures, and the forecasts for the next 10 years, are encouraging and are providing Brunei with reasons to give more attention to the sector, in line with the APEC goals of promoting tourism in and among its member economies.
The meeting concluded on a strong and positive note with the adoption of the Pachacamac Declaration by the assembled Ministers or their representatives from most of the grouping’s 21 member economies.
The declaration emphasized the grouping’s commitment to work towards consolidating its tourism sector’s position as one of the major contributors to members’ economies and as a recognized contributing factor to poverty elimination and employment creation.
The members also agreed in the Declaration about the importance of developing the sector in a sustainable, environmentally friendly, culturally sensitive and socially inclusive way, through corporate responsibility and specific actions by member economies, such as in the area of air connectivity.
These actions are to be carried out through the Tourism Working Group forum, with a number of projects submitted by member economies having been approved for implementation by the working group, or being under consideration for approval at the next Tourism Working Group meeting, which is held twice annually.
Brunei has offered to host the 33rd meeting of the APEC Tourism Working Group from 1st to 2nd December 2008, during which progress on what has been discussed or decided in Lima will be reported alongside the tabling of new initiatives.
In APEC tradition, the Tourism Ministerial Meeting, the next of which will be held in Japan in 2010, concluded with a group photo taken during a working visit to the pre-colonial ceremonial site of Pachacamac south of Lima.