AIMING to be a tourist hotspot does not necessarily mean that a country must compromise its social fabric for the sake of drawing more holidaymakers, a tourism expert told The Brunei Times in a recent interview.
It is possible for the tourism sector to thrive in Brunei where religion is a mainstay of the nation, said Francesco Frangialli, secretary general of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The oil-rich sultanate is not unique in this matter, he said when asked about how to preserve religious values while opening the country's doors to foreign visitors.
"It is not only the case for Brunei. Tourism is booming in the Maldives and it's a traditional Muslim country," he said.
Speaking on the correlation between attracting visitors and the ban on alcohol in Brunei, Frangialli said while it could be frustrating for "something which is forbidden to be in demand", tourists would not come to the country to drink when it is readily available in their own country.
Religious nations can earn from preserving monuments and cultural heritage from tourist visits.
Reaching a mutually beneficial arrangement is possible as long as "every side has to understand that the way of life is different", said the secretary general.
Tourists must respect the local culture and the host country has to "know that people can have different expectations", he added.
Frangialli emphasised that a "reasonable compromise" can be reached in the industry.
The secretary general was in Brunei Darussalam to discuss the country's recent membership in the UNWTO with top government officials. As previously reported, the UNWTO is expected to send a mission to assist Brunei in tourism education and training early next year. Frangialli said he was also in Brunei to inform the authorities of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, the implementation of which will ensure that member countries, tourist destinations and businesses capitalise on the positive effects of the industry while playing down the negative social and cultural impact.
The Brunei Times
Saturday, December 15, 2007
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