Two decades ago, Haji Hasnal bin Haji Abdul Kadir embarked on a career as a tour guide at Darussalam Holdings Sdn Bhd (DHSB). Little did he know then that his career choice would bring him a deep sense of satisfaction.
“When I applied for the job, it was merely for the sake of seeking employment. But I soon found out that it brought me delight,” he said.
Over the years, Haji Hasnal has hosted thousands of local and foreign tourists.
Before taking tourists out on local tours, Haji Hasnal ensures all information to be shared are accurate and precise. He also makes it a point to try to stay abreast with the latest developments of the intended visiting spots.
“You must know how to face challenges and manage tourists if you are interested in this profession,” he said.
“Sometimes, despite the information shared, tourists query about matters we are not yet aware of. What I have learnt is that there is no need to panic in such cases. Merely tell them politely that you will seek the answers and get back to them. Do not limit yourself to the knowledge you already have; keep building your knowledge on tourist hotspots. Do so by speaking to more experienced guides or the people dwelling in/near the area. Get your information and make it interesting. Be creative so that tourists will enjoy the experience.
“We must also observe our guests, as each tourist will have different behaviours and expectations,” he said.
One of the minor challenges that comes with the job is “communicating with non-English/Malay speaking tourists”, Haji Hasnal said, adding, “I often encountered such situations, but it did not create too much of a problem as I always found a way to communicate with them.”
Haji Hasnal’s job has also required him to bring local tourists overseas – to Russia, Jordan, China and Turkey. He has also had the opportunity to bring locals for their Haj/Umrah pilgrimage.
“For this, we must collect information about the country we are visiting, such as the local history, cultures as well as the dos and don’ts while there,” he said.
Turning his attention to the COVID-19 outbreak, Haji Hasnal said the pandemic has impacted the tourism industry, leaving many businesses struggling to stay afloat. However, with the situation under control in Brunei and with borders still shut, he said, Darussalam Travel and Tours has come up with packages promoting places of interest in the Sultanate.
“Feedback on our Island Discovery package has been positive. This package allows locals to learn about the islands along the Brunei River, each of which has its own story,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Temburong ‘1K1P’ package teaches locals about Temburong’s development and allows them a closer look at local products created by the mukim and village consultative council (MPM).
“There are many places in Brunei we have yet to explore. There are wasais, longhouses and green sceneries people are unaware of, and we are indeed fortunate that our forests are protected.”