Brunei’s tourism initiatives start reaping rich dividends

|     James Kon     |

BLESSED with several splendid tourism sites, Brunei Darussalam is poised to attract more foreign visitors, leveraging on a slew of its signature products and boosting its efforts to diversify the economy away from heavy dependence on oil and gas sector.

Following the introduction of a number of ambitious initiatives to improve the attractiveness, diversity and quality of tourism products and services, the Tourism Development Department under the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) sees robust signs of increasing the number of tourists to the country this year.

According to statistics provided by the department yesterday, the total number international tourists arrived in the Sultanate through the Brunei International Airport (BIA) in the second quarter of 2017 (Q2 2017) has reached 65,747 compared to 52,292 tourists in the same period last year (Q2 2016), recording a 25.7 per cent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) increase.

The increase is mainly attributed to the consistently high travel demand from the main market areas since the first quarter this year coupled with increased air connectivity due to chartered flights from the Far East market, improved travel facilitation and a modest global economic recovery despite tough regional competition from neighbouring countries.

File photo shows a view of the Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas. Brunei Darussalam is poised to attract more foreign visitors, leveraging on a slew of its signature products and boosting its efforts to diversify the economy away from heavy dependence on oil and gas sector. – BAHYIAH BAKIR

Moreover, main source market areas comprising Asean, Far East, Australia and New Zealand and long haul markets have all shown significant improvement over the previous quarter with the long haul markets contributing the highest growth at +34.4 per cent Y-o-Y, followed by Far East markets at +24.9 per cent Y-o-Y, Asean at +20.3 per cent Y-o-Y, and Australia and New Zealand markets at +9.4 per cent Y-o-Y.

According to a statement released by the Tourism Development Department, Malaysia contributed the biggest arrivals with 22.2 per cent (25 per cent in Q2 2016) which can be attributed to easy air accessibility and close proximity, followed by China at 15.9 per cent (18.3 per cent in Q2 2016), Indonesia at 9.3 per cent (10 per cent in Q2 2016), the Philippines at 11.2 per cent (7.8 per cent in Q2 2016) and Singapore at 5.7 per cent (6.8 per cent share in Q2 2016).

In total, the top five countries have contributed the major portion (64.4 per cent) of international tourist arrivals into the country during Q2 2017.

Moreover, since January 2017, China and South Korea are amongst the top target markets for Brunei Darussalam with growths of +18 per cent Y-o-Y and +146 per cent Y-o-Y respectively.

The Asean region remained as the largest source market during Q2 2017 at 52.6 per cent (54.9 per cent in Q2 2016), followed by Far East region at 22.9 per cent (23.1 per cent in Q2 2016), long haul markets such as Europe and the Middle East at 10.6 per cent (9.9 per cent in Q2 2016), while Australia and New Zealand markets both contributed at 3.5 per cent (9.6 per cent in Q2 2016).

According to the statistics, the main purpose of visit to Brunei Darussalam in the second quarter was for leisure and holiday at 41.9 per cent (41.9 per cent in Q2 2016), followed by business at 13.8 per cent (18.4 per cent in Q2 2016), visiting friends and relatives (VFR) at 10.8 per cent (11.6 per cent in Q2 2016), in transit at 8.9 per cent (11 per cent in Q2 2016), government purposes at 2.9 per cent (2.6 per cent in Q2 2016), exhibition at 0.6 per cent (0.8 per cent in Q2 2016), others at 12.3 per cent (0.4 per cent in Q2 2016) and not specified at 8.9 per cent (13.3 per cent in Q2 2016). China and Malaysia remained as the main contributors for the leisure and holiday market at 13.5 per cent and 6.9 per cent respectively.

In addition to the total tourist arrivals by air, a total of slightly more than a million international visitor arrivals were recorded at other immigration control posts during Q2 2017. A total of 1,026,769 arrived through land borders and on cruise ships.

The average length of stay in Q2 2017 remained the same at 2.2 days. Whereas, the average hotel occupancy rate for Q2 2017 was 36.8 per cent compared to 41.7 per cent in the same period last year.

For accommodation in Q2 2017, there were a total of 84 establishments ranging from luxury resorts (for example, The Empire Hotel & Country Club), international standard hotels (for example, Radisson Hotel); to business standards; budget; lodgings; apartments, guest houses and homestays. The total number of hotels, resort and apartments were 50, followed by homestays (16), guest houses and rest houses (15) and government guest houses (3).

Meanwhile, the total number of rooms and beds available were 4,317 and 6,079 respectively. In Q2 2016, the total number of establishments was 81, with 4,084 rooms and 5,777 beds.

In Q2 2017, total number of registered travel agents under the Tourism Development Department was 67 compared to 60 last year. All travel agents offer inbound and outbound travel services.

Tables above show data from the Tourism Development Department and the Immigration and National Registration Department