MEMOIRS OF MY JOURNEYS IN ASEAN COUNTRIES: PART I

Humbled to receiving ASEANTA Award for Excellence (Left: Then Minister of Tourism, Singapore)

ASEAN – UNIFIED TOURISM

Part I: Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore

Association of South East Asian Nations Tourism Authority (ASEANTA), formed by Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a success model working towards tourism enhancement and prosperity to the regional population through unity and employing best practice methodology transforming crisis into opportunity and to achieve set goals.

Soon after meeting some of the ASEAN Ministers at a PATA Conference in the mid 90’s, with my passionate and selfless commitment to serve the travel Industry, I got adopted by the Association on the selected professional team of international working media and soon after, my work got recognized and humbly rewarded with the prestigious ASEANTA Award for Excellence for two consecutive years: 1999 and 2000. These awards are independently judged by high profile judges from the 10 member ASEAN countries; bestowed with feeling of being an ambassador to my Homeland, making a mark while working and traveling.

The 10-member ASEAN countries comprise of:

Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Life is a series of journeys and as a journeyman, I got lucky to have travelled all across these ten countries, telling the world, my tales of wonderment as I step into the rhythm, glimpses of beauty, participating in festivals and taking joy in meeting people; indulge into adventure activities, though recently, having spent more time in the comfort zone of Mother Nature and indulged into exploring deeper into the wilderness; while there have been moments to luxuriate in warm cultures and traditions, savoring native and modern culinary delights and staying at some of the lifestyle resorts.

One of the fastest economic growth rates in history for the past 30 years, ASEAN’s hodgepodge, closely knit and laced together in harmony. Combined – the 10 countries offers a travel experiences that comes in a package including refreshing trails along tropical and rain forests and rich diversity of flower and fauna; river cruising and liquid treks abound sea-mountains, running a marathon to the summit of Mount Kinabalu or sighting some of the worlds active volcano mountains; waterfalls and sublime beaches – some of the finest in the world; multi-racial cultures and pockets of tribal villages, modern and ancient architecture and art culture, traditional music and beats from around the world; spa and wellness and perhaps the region is the world’s prime attraction for the gourmands to experience a bite into some of the favorite culinary delights of each ASEAN countries.

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM – “Abode of Peace”

Cultural tourism is the back bone of Brunei tourism attracting family tourists. The Sultanate has a growth potential in underwater adventure and in the recent years, Brunei’s clear waters has been attracting shallow water marine life exploration as well as wreck dive deeper in the sea. Marine life and corals are intact due to lack of commercial fishing, controlled diving activities and caring hands of the dive operating companies committed to safeguard the challenge of damage to coral reefs. Brunei forests are considered a national treasure with its vulnerable Peat Swamp Forest, and the entire area is protected under gazzeted Forest Reserves and State land Forests. Among the many beautiful masajid around the City, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin masjid on a lake is one of the most stunning – a brilliant fusion of Moghul and Italian architecture.A variety supply of accommodation is available to meet the demand ranging from guest houses to 4 and 5 star world brand hotels like the Radisson Blu, Sheraton and the local 6-star, Empire Beach Hotel & Country Club. www.bruneitourism.com

MALAYSIA – BIODIVERSITY

Naturally diverse and multi-cultural destination, Malaysia attracts long haul holiday makers. Vibrant Kuala Lumpur is the gateway to the historic, beach, tribal and eco adventure at Malacca, Ipoh, Terengganu, Langkawi Island and off the mainland – Sabah and Sarawak.The case of Malacca is a lesson learnt on the adverse effects of mass tourism. Once an astounding laid-back historic town now transformed into a city with huge modern shopping complexes, historic sites and old streets, cramped with a tsunami of tourists, stealing the character of Malacca that had once appealed to travelers. The peninsular mainland Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak-Malaysia is separated by the South-China Sea. Sabah and Sarawak offers a challenge to soft adventure travelers to explore the forests, an insight into the tribal cultures and wander the domains of Mount Kinabalu. https://tourism.gov.my

Changi Airport, Singapore
Marina Bay

SINGAPORE – MAN MADE WONDER

Among the world’s most expensive countries with man-made tourism products, Singapore is a short haul destination with an average length tourist visit of 3.5 days. Branded the Convention (MICE) City and a shopping hub of Asia has been recently taken over by Thailand and Malaysia. It was here at a Forum in 1999, I humbly received, by the Singapore Tourism Minister, ASEANTA EXCELLENCE AWARD for my work in tourism promotion of ASEAN.

Man-made theme parks such as Sentosa and the Night Safari are among the main tourist attractions and recorded 16.9M visitors (January to November 2018). Due to limited land space, hotels are short in supply therefore an expensive retreat for holiday makers.

Singapore serves as the hub of cruising in Asia. Genting Dream sails from Peshawar to destinations including Penang (Malaysia), Langkawi Island (Malaysia), Phuket (Thailand). http://www.dreamcruiseline.com

www.stb.gov.sg

CONTENT/ IMAGES: Saifuddin Ismailji (Except Self-Photos)e-Travelers Club travel update

Note: All content/ images are Intellectual property owned by the author. No part of content and/ or images be used by any individual/ body unless written permission from the author.

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