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Philippines and Brunei sign tourism cooperation agreement

Philippines and Brunei

The Philippines and Brunei Darussalam enhance tourism collaboration with a historic agreement signed during President Marcos’ state visit to Brunei.

BRUNEI DARUSSALM – The Philippines and Brunei Darussalam have joined hands in a momentous agreement that will significantly enhance and promote mutual cooperation in the field of tourism.

The official signing of this cooperation agreement is one of the highlights of the State Visit of Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to Brunei Darussalam, marking a crucial milestone in fostering closer ties and collaboration between the two Southeast Asian countries.

This landmark agreement, forged between the Republic of the Philippines represented by Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco and Brunei Darussalam Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Dr. Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin and witnessed by President Marcos and His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, aims to bolster efforts in strengthening, promoting, and developing tourism cooperation between the two nations.

Key objectives of the agreement include increasing tourist arrivals to or through both countries from world tourist-generating markets and encouraging a wider distribution of visitors to the various tourist destinations and attractions in each other.

Secretary Frasco expressed great optimism about the prospects of this agreement, stating, “Forging this landmark collaboration signifies an exciting new chapter in our bilateral relations that will mutually benefit our two nations. Focused on fostering tourism growth and development, and promoting the culture, traditions, and natural beauty of our respective countries, this agreement will enrich the tourism sector and expand economic opportunities for our peoples.”

This comprehensive agreement sets the stage for a dynamic partnership between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam, poised to bring about significant advancements in tourism for both nations especially since it includes collaborations to expand Halal and Muslim-friendly tourism, Medical and Wellness tourism, MICE tourism, and increase in tourism investments. The collaboration is expected to enhance the overall tourist experience, strengthen economic ties, and contribute to the sustainable development of the tourism industry in both countries,” the tourism chief added.

In 2023, the DOT recorded 6,639 visitor arrivals from Brunei Darussalam majority of whom visited The Philippines for leisure travel or vacation.

To recall, the last tourism cooperation agreement between The Philippines and Brunei Darussalam was signed 13 years ago.

Areas of Cooperation

The agreement outlines several areas where the Philippines and Brunei will collaborate, subject to their respective laws, rules, regulations, and national policies. These include:

  • Muslim Friendly and Halal Tourism: Promoting Muslim Friendly Tourism (MFT) and Halal Tourism concepts in infrastructure, facilities, products, and services.
  • Exchange of Experiences: Sharing best practices in the organization, management, and business operations of tourism activities.
  • Manpower Training: Conducting training and capacity development for tourism personnel and stakeholders, including academic networking and exchanges.
  • Joint Promotion Programs: Collaborating on advertising and promotion initiatives.
  • Tour Package Development: Creating and promoting tour packages that highlight the unique attractions of both countries.
  • Medical and Health Tourism: Supporting the enhancement and management of medical and health tourism.
  • Investment in Tourism: Encouraging public and private sector investment in tourism programs and projects.
  • Community-Based and Eco-Tourism: Promoting community-based tourism and eco-tourism initiatives.
  • Business Tourism (MICE): Encouraging business tourism, including meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions.
  • Information Exchange: Trading publications, research studies, and data on tourism legislation and statistics.
  • Standardization and Certification: Sharing experiences related to official standards and certifications in tourism.
  • Exchange and IT Development: Facilitating the exchange of experts and information technology, and developing joint comparative studies on training programs and skills improvement.
  • Gender and Development Programs: Developing and exchanging programs related to gender, sustainable tourism, and accessible tourism for all.
  • Airline Cooperation: Promoting commercial arrangements among national airlines.

Currently, three airlines fly directly from Banda Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam to Manila, Philippines, and vice versa. These include the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Royal Brunei Airlines.

As mentioned in my State of the Nation Address last year, tourism continues to be an important economic engine of our growth, employing at least five million of our kababayans. During this trip to Brunei, we will sign the Philippines-Brunei Darussalam MOU on tourism cooperation. And through this MOU, we hope to entice and attract Bruneian tourists to explore the Philippines. Brunei, despite having relatively small population, it is the quality of tourist and not the quantity that counts,” President Marcos said of the landmark agreement.

These are also among the key priorities born from the success convening of the 3rd Philippines-Brunei Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation which was held last August. I am confident that our partnership with Brunei in these important sectors will further boost our political, economic, and people-to-people ties,” the President added.

Last year, The Philippines received the ‘Emerging Muslim-friendly Destination of the Year for Non-OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries) award in the Halal Travel Global Summit 2023.

Meanwhile, The Philippines also clinched the seventh spot among Top 20 Non-OIC destinations tied with Germany and South Africa, and number 36 overall among 138 destinations in the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI).

The cooperation agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam is poised to unleash a host of opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the exchange of best practices in the tourism industry. By harnessing our commonalities and each country’s unique tourism offerings and strengths, both nations aim to attract a more diverse range of visitors and showcase the richness of their respective cultural, natural, and heritage attractions,” said Secretary Frasco.

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