Permanent Secretary Pg Hj Kamalrudzaman Pg Mohd Ishak touring the exhibition at the Mendaram Longhouse. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) recently launched the ‘Explore Labi’ brochure and packages, in its bid to turn the rural area in Belait into an alternative tourism place that can rival the sultanate’s Green Jewel Temburong.

“Mukim Labi which covers an area of about 47,784 hectares in Belait is an ecotourism haven full of flora, fauna and fresh air,” Permanent Secretary Pg Hj Kamalrudzaman Pg Mohd Ishak said at the launching ceremony of the packages at Mendaram Longhouse.

With Mukim Labi poised to become the sultanate’s next up and coming eco-tourism and wildlife sanctuary destination, the ‘Explore Labi’ initiative utilises the ‘sustainable, responsible and inclusive’ tourism concept.

Among products exhibited at the Mendaram Longhouse. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

“To be sustainable means to further enhance the existing ecotourism activities by placing emphasis on preservation efforts of Labi’s natural greenery and uniqueness,” he said.

“The principle of responsible tourism means to encourage visitors to work together with the local community to conserve and protect our nature and wildlife,”

Traditional dancers performing a show at the launching event. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

“The principle of inclusive tourism means to engage the locals for community-based tourism activities to generate economy, as they sell their products and services to visitors,” he explained.

Featuring waterfall walks that lead to two of Brunei’s popular waterfalls – Wasai Wong Kadir and Wasai Teraja – Mukim Labi is ideal for educational outings and adventures as the Mukim boasts over 300 species of wildlife native to Borneo.

Besides the abundance of flora and fauna, the Mukim is also known for its rich indigenous culture with two Iban Longhouses open for visitors – the Mendaram Longhouse and the Teraja Longhouse.

“These welcoming settlements belong to the Iban ethnic tribe who came to settle in Labi about 70 years ago. Now they are the main drivers for community-based tourism in the Labi area,” said Pg Hj Kamalrudzaman.

Children draped in traditional attire posing for a picture. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

The senior official went on to highlight agriculture as an important aspect for Mukim Labi due to the area’s fertile soil, noting that more than 6,000 hectares of land in the Belait district has been gazetted as agricultural development areas.

“There are plenty of farms and crop plantations, which you can also visit for all kinds of produce, such as coffee, paddy, various types of fruits and vegetables, and even a goat farm”.

Fruits grown in Yong’s coffee farm in Labi. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

One of these agri-tourism destinations in Labi is the coffee farm run by Pertanian Tropikal Utama, Brunei’s first commercial coffee plantation, which grows two types of coffee – Arabica and Robusta.

Sprawled over picturesque rolling hills, the 19-hectare orchard holds about 18,000 coffee trees and is gearing up to add more facilities to entice tourists in light of the launch of Explore Labi brochure and packages.

Owner of the farm, Yong Khian Fook who is also a Labi local said in an interview that he was excited about the renewed emphasis towards his Mukim as a tourist destination, noting how Labi with its rich culture and green expanse has plenty to offer.

Labi Coffee Farm owner Yong Khian Fook posing for a picture with his product. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

“We want to properly open our orchards to tourists next year, and we hope to add more facilities like a cafe where guests can relax and enjoy our Labi grown coffee”.

The Bruneian | BELAIT

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