Bird Watching Tourism on the Rise
By Billah Hasan
Saturday, September 5, 2015
THE Tourism Development Department yesterday launched a three-day Bird Watching Workshop 2015 aimed to promote bird watching industry in the sultanate.
Organised in collaboration with Sunshine Borneo Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Birding Conservation Council (BCC) and Brunei Birders Group, an affiliate group of the Brunei Darussalam Photographers’ Association, the launching ceremony was held at Dewan Setia Pahlawan at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) building in Berakas.
Hj Khairuddin Hj Abd Hamid, Deputy Permanent Secretary of MIPR, who officiated the workshop later, was the guest of honour.
In his speech, the deputy permanent secretary highlighted that bird watching tourism was identified in the Brunei Tourism Masterplan as one of the main tourism products which at the same time supports the conservation efforts by Wildlife Division under the ministry.
“Bird watching is a niche tourism activity which has proven to have more positive impacts to the destination.
“During our recent hosting of the Borneo Bird Race 2014, a total of 125 species of birds were seen in Brunei Darussalam’s very own protected forests as well as recreational parks,” he said.
He stated that the bird watching tourism industry has been recognised in other parts of the world as being a highly sustainable yet lucrative business, for instance in the United States, studies showed that the industry was worth US$3 billion in 2012 alone, while creating numerous job opportunities in the process.
“It is important to highlight here that the MIPR believes that wildlife tourism in Brunei Darussalam can have both positive benefits to our economy through the tourism expenditures, as well as support the conserv
ation of natural heritage.”
Hj Khairuddin also stressed the importance of all stakeholders to play their role in conserving local wildlife, especially local communities who live near the birds’ habitats as it has been reported by the wildlife officers that bird traps are often setup which can lead to the extinction of certain bird species in the long run.
He further added, “We believe tha
t promoting bird watching acti
vities can bring about more economic benefits to the local communities than selling these (bird) species which may lead to their extinction.”
The deputy permanent secretary hoped that the workshop will be a step for local inbound tour operators to add value to their guiding skills.
The event also saw Mark Ng from MNS/BCC as the trainer-in-charge delivering a presentation on the overview of the workshop. He noted the importance of local guides to know the areas for birding activities and acknowledged Brunei’s high species diversity of birds.
Members of the public are also welcomed to join the workshop in the future with an entry fee of $180 per person. Organisers can be contacted via [email protected].
The Brunei Times