The inaugural International Tourism Conference and Exhibition (ITCE) 2018 convened tourism researchers from Southeast Asia particularly Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Indonesia at the Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences Extension Building, Universiti Brunei Darussalam to explore the theme "Tourism and Heritage: The ASEAN and Borneo Context".
Contributing to discussions addressing issues consisting and relating to sustainable tourism were tourism stakeholders made up of governments, private sector companies, and tourism industry service providers.
The conference was organised as part of the programmes under the Borneo Studies Network (BSN), which is a collaboration between 12 major universities and research institutions in Borneo that promotes and make distinctive contributions through education and research on Borneo Studies.
Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali Awang Haji Apong officiated the conference and exhibition on 16th January 2018. In his opening address, he mentioned that Brunei's comparative advantage is its location, being in the third largest island in the world and positioned in the centre of Southeast Asia. Borneo is unique as it signifies three comparable ASEAN states that are rich in history, heritage and natural resources. Borneo has the potential for healthy and active eco-tourism. "As part of Borneo, we share a common goal and cooperation with the other two major countries through the Heart of Borneo initiative," he said. The Heart of Borneo promotes empowerment of locals to manage cross border or inter-border tourism. This facilitates tourism to be more attractive and accessible. The Heart of Borneo initiative also, through its people, seeks to find equilibrium between our vibrant ecosystems including heritage with tourism development that contributes towards the economies of the three nations of Borneo.
Following the opening ceremony, newly appointed Professor of Borneo Studies at the Insitute of Asian Studies in UBD, Emeritus Professor Victor T King presented a keynote presentation titled "Tourism, Culture and heritage in ASEAN and Borneo. The Director of UNESCO Office in Jakarta, Professor Dr Shahbaz Khan was also one of the prominent speakers at the conference who delivered "UNESCO Initiatives to Promote Sustainable Tourism and World Heritage".
Conference participants also got to join a Stakeholders Dialogue session where Dk Kemariah Pg Haji Duraman, Founder of Kunyit7 Lodge in Kampong Ayer; Leslie Chiang, Founder of Brunei-based tour company Borneo Guide and Sumbiling Eco Village; Harina Ramlee, Corporate Services Manager at Total, Brunei; as well as Haji Mohd Kamarul Dzaman Haji Ajimain, Assistant Manager (Creative & Branding), Digital Social Media Division of Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) and Social Media Influencer discussed "Trends in Eco-Tourism and Cultutal Tourism in the Digital Age".
Held for two days, major themes addressed in the conference sessions were Tourism in the development agenda, Innovative Planning and Strategies for Sustainable Tourism, Identity and Heritage Conservation, Niche Tourisms, Perspectives on Tourism Promotion and Lessons for Tourism Planning and Development.
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