| Azlan Othman |
THE total number of international tourist arrivals to Brunei Darussalam through the Brunei International Airport (BIA) reached 218,809 in 2016 compared to 218,213 in 2015, recording a 0.3 per cent year-on-year increase.
The Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) said in a statement that in 2016, the Far East region was the only source market that has continued to show positive growth at 10.4 per cent especially from countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong, China and Japan which have all grown by 23.7 per cent, 19.4 per cent, 10.7 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively.
Australia and New Zealand markets have both showed a decline at 18.7 per cent (year-on-year), followed by the long haul market such as the United Kingdom at 10.1 per cent and Asean markets such as Malaysia and Singapore at 1.1 per cent.
The overall increase can be attributed to the high travel demand from the Far East market, visa facilitation (visa on arrival) for China and chartered flights from China and South Korea, the department said.
Whereas, the weakening global economy and high regional competition from neighbouring countries in the Asean have affected the performance and growth of the Australia and New Zealand, Asean and long haul source markets in 2016 to some extent.
Malaysia contributed to the top tourist arrivals in 2016 due to its easy air accessibility and proximity with 24.8 per cent (26.6 per cent in 2015), followed by China in second place with 18.7 per cent (16.9 per cent in 2015).
Indonesia moved up one ranking at 9.5 per cent (7.9 per cent in 2015), Philippines dropped to fourth place at 7.8 per cent (8.2 per cent in 2015) and Singapore remained at the same position from last year at 6.6 per cent (7.4 per cent in 2015).
In total, the top five countries have contributed the majority portion of international tourist arrivals into the country in 2016 at 67.4 per cent.
The main source market for 2016 was Asean region at 53.2 per cent (53.9 per cent in 2015), followed by Far East region at 23.9 per cent (21.7 per cent in 2015), long haul markets such as Europe and Middle East at 11.1 per cent (12.4 per cent in 2015) and Australia and New Zealand markets contributed at 4.3 per cent (5.3 per cent in 2015).
According to the department, the main of visit to Brunei Darussalam was for leisure and holiday purposes at 42.8 per cent (40.7 per cent in 2015).
About 17.1 per cent of tourists travelled for business (19.0 per cent in 2015), followed by visiting friends and relatives (VFR) at 11.6 per cent (12.1 per cent in 2015), in transit at 10.7 per cent (11.0 per cent in 2015), government purposes at three per cent (three per cent in 2015), exhibitions at 0.6 per cent (0.5 per cent in 2015), others at 11 per cent (10 per cent in 2015) and not specified at 3.3 per cent (3.6 per cent in 2015).
China and Malaysia remained as the main contributors for the leisure and holiday market with each comprising 39 per cent and 17.6 per cent respectively.
The average length of stay for hotels in 2015 and 2016 was 2.2 days.
Whereas, the average hotel occupancy rate for 2016 was 38.7 per cent compared to 41.4 per cent in 2015.
Moreover, the average occupancy rate among the top five hotels for 2016 was recorded at 64.4 per cent compared to 64.6 per cent in the previous year.
For accommodation in 2016, there were a total of 84 establishments ranging from luxury resorts (for example The Empire Hotel & Country Club), international-standard hotel (for example Radisson Hotel), to business standards, budget, lodgings, apartments, guest houses and homestays.
The total number of hotels, resorts and apartments were 50, followed by homestays (17), guest houses and rest houses (14) and government guest houses (2).
Meanwhile, the total number of rooms and beds available were 4,311 and 6,044 respectively.
In 2015, total number of establishments was recorded at 74, with 3,680 rooms and 5,297 beds available from the same categories of accommodations.
In 2016, the total number of registered travel agents under the Tourism Development Department was 60 compared to 57 last year. All travel agents offer inbound and outbound travel services.