By Azlan Othman
His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday officiated the launching of the latest tourism product in the country, the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery (KACTG) managed by the Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.
The Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Yahya in his welcoming speech said Kampong Ayer is a "must see" attraction for the majority of tourists visiting Brunei, as it is the Sultanate's most unique 'treasure'.
He said the objectives of establishing the gallery are to revive the past glory of the water village so that it will not be made extinct by the rapid pace of modernisation, to revive the cottage industries of the villages to diversify the economy and add value to local economic activities, to create jobs and source of income for residents, to make the water village a unique tourist destination and to support the nation's aspiration to make tourism part of an effort to diversify the economy.
Most tourists, however, do not get a chance to know more about the background, history, traditions, society and arts and crafts of this unique settlement.
The Cultural and Tourism Gallery has therefore been built to remedy this situation. The gallery boasts a touch screen information display, which among others showcases information on other tourist attractions nearby.
The five galleries contain background information on Kg Ayer from its historical origins until its present day, as well as a number of photographs and artefacts loaned by the Museums Department to make the displays livelier.
The central hexagonal stage showcases a 'live' exhibition of the traditional manufacturing methods of the Bruneian brocade 'kain tenunan' or intricately hand-woven fabric with gold or silver metallic threads presented by the Women's Business Council while the Tourist Kiosk is managed by Pelangi De' Mutiara, a local souvenir proprietor.
Built in the style of a grand Kg Ayer house, and with a distinctive observation tower that gives visitors a bird's eye view of Kg Ayer and its surroundings, the Cultural and Tourism Gallery has become a new landmark in Bandar Seri Begawan, one that all Kampong Ayer residents can be proud of.
After officiating the launch, His Royal Highness was presented with a brief video presentation about the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery. His Royal Highness was then given a tour of the galleries and facilities. The Crown Prince later signed a memorial plaque.
- Borneo Bulletin
(20th August 2009)