Despite a turbulent year brought on by the global financial crisis, the oil-rich Sultanate of Brunei has seen steady investment in new venues and other facilities in its quest to strike gold in the potentially lucrative business events market.
The new venues are a welcome addition to the fold given that Brunei is revving up for the ASEAN Tourism Forum scheduled to be held in the country this coming January. The annual event is expected to draw around 450 buyers worldwide. It has been nearly a decade since the country hosted the event in 2001.
Jerudong in the Brunei-Muara district is expected to take centre stage as the main site of the week-long event from January 21 to 28. This is hardly surprising as the area is the home of the brand-new, purpose-built exhibition centre.
Built on a 26ha prime ocean-facing site in Jerudong, the new centre is a one-storey infrastructure that has a 10,000sqm indoor exhibition hall divided into two wings. Both wings are fully air-conditioned and, most importantly, they are column-free. A short walking distance from the exhibition halls is a wide outdoor display area measuring approximately 5,000sqm.
Attendees of the coming ATF need not concern themselves about being the first ones to test the new venue. The centre was the site the 2nd Brunei International Defence Exhibition organised by Royal Brunei Technical Services. The four-day event held in August gathered 120 exhibitor companies from 26 countries, showcasing heavy military artillery, armoured carriers and navy submersibles. This underlines the sturdiness of the new structure.
Furthermore, the facility is equipped with advanced communications technology that allows high-speed internet connectivity between stands as well as to remote locations.
The centre is strategically located. It can be reached by car within 15 minutes from Brunei International Airport and 20 minutes from the capital and central business district of Bandar Seri Begawan.
Also in Jerudong, The Empire Hotel and Country Club added a new detached Conference Hall on its 180ha property. It consists of a Grand Ballroom, meeting rooms and open-roof deck areas. The Grand Ballroom is designed to seat up to 2,000 guests for a formal dinner and 3,200 people for cocktail reception or theatre-style seating. The building is fitted with the latest meetings amenities and technology.
This new conference hall adds approximately 5,270sqm to the existing 3,210sqm of meeting and function space located across Brunei’s premier luxury resort.
Brunei is also expanding its list of attractions. In the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, the government has opened the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery to give visitors a one-stop place to learn about this 600-year-old village of houses built on stilts over water. Plans are being made for some of the residences to accept homestay guests to enable visitors a first-hand experience of life on the river.
Venturing further into the heart of Brunei, the Ulu Ulu National Park Resort in Ulu Temburong National Park is preparing to be the primary eco-tourism attraction in the country. Upgrades are currently being done in the resort with the building of a multipurpose hall (to cater for group meetings and teambuilding activities), a signature-spa facility, in-room internet access and a helipad.
With all the constructions going on to secure Brunei’s place as choice business events destination in Southeast Asia, the sultanate remains committed to preserve much of its local character – which after all – is part of its charm.
For more information, contact Brunei Tourism at email@example.com or +673 238 28 22