On September 27, Brunei will join countries around the world in celebrating World Tourism Day under the theme: “Tourism – Celebrating Diversity.”

Brunei, a member country of the UNWTO since 2007, has decided for the first time this year to mark World Tourism Day in its own modest but significant way.

As The Honorable Pehin Yahya, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, under whose responsibility tourism falls, commented: “Though Brunei is a relatively young player in the international tourism arena, my ministry, through the efforts of the Tourism Department, is working towards the development of this important economic sector, while ensuring that such development is sustainable and in line with the socio-economic and cultural realities of Brunei. Joining UNWTO, and now marking World Tourism Day, are some of the ways in which the country will integrate more and more with the worldwide tourism community.”

While Brunei can also boast of a rich diversity of cultures, languages, ethnicities, and religions co-existing harmoniously and peacefully in a way that pleasantly surprises visiting tourists, the Brunei Tourism Board has chosen as the theme to celebrate World Tourism Day the extraordinary diversity of its mostly pristine natural environment. It is indeed this diversity of abundant numbers of species of flora and fauna, some unique to Borneo or even Brunei, that many tourists from all over the world come to Brunei to celebrate as this diversity can be enjoyed with relative ease as compared to other rainforest-covered destinations, due to the small size of the country and ease of access to areas left pristine thanks to the wealth of the country allowing it.

For this special day commemorating the role of tourism in the global economy, a weeklong exhibition on Brunei’s and Borneo’s natural diversity has been chosen as the way to mark the occasion.

The exhibition will highlight the Heart of Borneo trans-boundary conservation initiative that the governments of Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia have pledged to support by setting aside protected and conservation areas that will preserve the island’s bio-diversity, water catchment areas, and last remaining expanses of virgin rainforest by allowing only sustainable development, with ecotourism, ethno-tourism, and nature tourism being identified as most desirable activities to ensure sustainable economic development for the populations residing in areas under the Heart of Borneo initiative.

On the occasion of joining the global community in the celebration of World Tourism Day, Dato Hamdillah, Chairman of Brunei Tourism Board, declared: “In my capacity as chairman of Brunei Tourism Board, it is our pleasure to be a part of the global celebration to commemorate World Tourism Day.

“To mark our participation, Brunei Tourism Board and Brunei Heart of Borneo National Council will showcase together with the other stakeholders the national drive to develop and grow our ecotourism industry.”

The exhibition on the Heart of Borneo initiative, including photographic displays of some of Borneo’s most iconic wildlife, will be held at the newly-opened Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery, opposite the capital’s waterfront, from Sunday, September 27 to Sunday, October 4,2009, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

According to Sheikh Jamaluddin, CEO of Brunei Tourism Board, “The public at large and visiting tourists are encouraged to join the tourism authorities in the celebration of World Tourism day by visiting this exhibition celebrating Brunei’s diversity, while at the same time taking the opportunity to discover the new Kg Ayer landmark.”