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PH, Brunei signs landmark agreement on tourism cooperation
PH, Brunei signs landmark agreement on tourism cooperation
PH, Brunei signs landmark agreement on tourism cooperation
by Karen Ow-Yong28 May 2024
Screenshot courtesy of RTVM

MANILA – The Philippines and Brunei Darussalam officially signed a cooperation agreement that is expected to significantly enhance and promote mutual cooperation between the two countries in the field of tourism.

Signed by the Philippines’ 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, the landmark agreement aims to “bolster efforts in strengthening, promoting and developing tourism cooperation between the two nations.”

According to the DOT, 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.”

The DOT mentions that the official signing of the cooperation agreement is one of the highlights of the State Visit of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to Brunei Darussalam.


Both President Marcos, Jr. and His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, witnessed the signing of the agreement, marking a crucial milestone in fostering closer ties and collaboration between the two Southeast Asian countries.

Meanwhile, Secretary Frasco expressed optimism about the prospects of the agreement, stating that this will benefit both countries and will foster tourism growth and development, as well as promote the culture, traditions and natural beauty of both nations.

“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 that it includes collaborations to expand Halal and Muslim-friendly tourism, Medical and Wellness tourism, MICE tourism, and increase in tourism investments,” Frasco stated.

“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.


Based on data collected by the DOT, there are 6,639 visitor arrivals from Brunei Darussalam with majority who 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.

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.

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).


Screenshot courtesy of RTVM

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, the DOT said.

According to Frasco, she is looking forward to unleashing opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the exchange of best practices in the tourism industry through the agreement.


“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,” Secretary Frasco said.

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