Travel industry players have responded to the demand of people wanting to travel freely.
However, rising demands and expectations of travellers, manpower shortages and increase in supply chain costs are among the challenges faced today, said Chairman of Sabre Travel Network (Brunei) Sdn Bhd (Sabre Brunei) Captain Sabirin bin Haji Abdul Hamid.
He said this during the opening of the Sabre Brunei Travel Fair at OneCity Shopping Centre yesterday where he also extrended, “our sincere gratitude to government agencies and committees on the re-opening of our borders and lifting the restrictions on the exit and entry into the Sultanate”.
He shared a recent study conducted by Sabre Asia Pacific with respondents from corporate travel agents and travel management companies in 21 countries across the Asia-Pacific, including Brunei, which showed a strong level of optimism in the region.
With the study resulted in 82 per cent expecting a return to pre-pandemic corporate travels and 15 per cent expecting a boom greater than pre-COVID-19 within the next 12 months, Sabre Brunei is optimistic on the state of recovery.
This year’s travel fair marks the 17th edition and the event is a demonstration of Sabre Brunei’s commitment to providing its travel partners with a platform to showcase products and services, and offering travellers the convenience of shopping for a wide range of deals and packages.
He said the fair has always provided attractive offers to travellers in search of dream vacations, and the event is a unique platform for the tourism industry to showcase products and services,including staycation packages and promotions.
Malaysian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Dato’ Raja Reza Raja Zaib Shah, Directors of Sabre Brunei Kamal Ariffin bin Dato Haji Abdul Rahman and Ida Marsita Hidup, and Sabre Brunei Acting General Manager Abdul Halim bin Haji Abdul Rahman were also in attendance.
Captain Sabirin launched the Sabre Brunei Travel Fair 2022, accompanied by Kamal Ariffin and Abdul Halim, before touring the event and joining a ribbon-cutting for the Tourism Malaysia Brunei pavilion.
Yesterday saw the public visiting in droves to get the best deals from airlines, banks, national tourist offices, hotels, insurance services and travel agents.
The two-day event offers convenience of shopping for a wide range of travel deals under one roof from local agents such as Straits Central Agencies (SCA), Freme Travel Services, Pan Bright Travel Services and Darussalam Holdings. Also participating are Dar El Ehsan Travel, Anthony Tours and Travel Agency, At-Taqwa Travel Tours, Halim Tours and Travel, JJ Tour Service, and Southern Cross Travel Agencies.
Meanwhile, other organisations attending the travel fair include the Brunei Tourism Board, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Sabah Tourism Board, Sarawak Tourism Board and Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Other participating booths include financial institutions, such as Baiduri Bank Berhad, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam and Standard Chartered Bank, as well as Royal Brunei Airlines (RB), Singapore Airlines and imagine Sdn Bhd, who are on site to support travel agents and assist visitors.
Insurance services at the fair are represented by Insurans lslam TAIB and Takaful Brunei Am.
The Sunday Bulletin spoke to some of the visitors to get their response on the return of the travel fair.
“It is good to see the travel fair back as it is a good platform for travellers, especially those on a tight budget, and expatriates who plan to go back to their home countries either after ending their work contract or just for a brief break,” said Fikri.
Several others also noted that it is timely for the fair to make a comeback as borders have re-opened and quite a number of people have not done any travelling either for holiday or visiting family.
Nor and her husband have been trying to get air tickets, especially for their son, who has been awarded a scholarship to study in the United Kingdom (UK).
Nor said the travel fair is an opportunity for them to hunt down good bargains for their travels next year.
“Now that we are in the endemic stage, we should not be anxious when travelling, especially to countries that are reportedly safe to visit. You just have to wear a face mask when needed and wash your hands frequently,” she said.
Mohd Nazid bin Haji Nudin, who was among the early comers to the fair, said he wanted to make sure that he got the right deal as it is being offered on a limited basis.
“Travelling after the pandemic and the re-opening of our borders is nothing to be anxious about. Most countries are deemed safe to travel,” he said.
Noi has been travelling since the re-opening of borders to visit her daughter, who is studying in the UK. As such, she was seen scouting good deals at the travel fair as she plans to visit London more frequently next year.
As for travelling post-COVID, Noi believes that everyone is responsible for their own health, so it is only a matter of applying the same precautions when travelling abroad.
“What is important is to not be complacent, just because we are in the endemic stage. If the authority requires you to buy travel insurance, just do so. It is for our own good, to ensure that we are protected while overseas,” Noi added.
Imah, meanwhile, commented that the fair not only provides a platform for holiday breakers to grab attractive travel deals but also an opportunity to meet up with brand ambassadors to the companies, especially from the national airline, RB.
The travel fair, like those in past, has been a treasure trove of information relevant to travelling and promotions that could only be accessed on site. For Imah, it is even more vital in post-pandemic – to get clarification on travel requirements. “After speaking with travel agents and insurance providers, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t that frightening,” she said.