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Opportunities for tourism, hospitality industry amidst challenges of pandemic

Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) yesterday concluded a virtual forum which discussed Brunei’s tourism and hospitality industry as a continuation of the 10-part ‘BIBD SME360 SERIES’.

The two-day event began on March 22 with a session titled ‘Overview of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry: COVID-19, Now, and the Future’.

The first session of Day 1, featured a panel of speakers which included the Acting Director of Tourism Development Department Salinah binti Haji Mohd Salleh; President of Brunei Association of Hotels Mohd Iswandi bin Maaruf; and a member of Travel Agents of Brunei and Managing Director of BonAsia Holiday Management Services Caroline Ang.

The session’s panellists agreed that the industry was among the worst-hit sector of the COVID-19 pandemic and faced various challenges including drop in sales due to a lack of local and foreign visitors.

However, they also noted that the pandemic also created opportunities for industry players to look into niche products in the new norm as well as how tour and hotel operators can add value to their products and services.

Participants at the second session. PHOTO: BIBD

The following session titled ‘Promoting Sustainable Practices in the Tourism Industry’ was participated by Dr Gabriel Yong, Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Systems and Biomimicry, and Teraja Ecotourism Development Project, Universiti Brunei Darussalam; Richard Ting, Development Manager at The Abode, and Doris Suresh, General Manager at The Abode; and Thye Sing Wong, Founder and CEO of Poni Group.

Speakers at the session highlighted the importance of sustainable tourism which is about creating travel opportunities with minimal impact and positive benefits for destinations and their communities.

They pointed out some of the responsibilities of industry players which not only include protecting the environment, natural resources and wildlife but also providing socio-economic benefits for communities who live in tourist destinations.

The next forum will cover the Education and Non Profit industry in May.

The SME360 SERIES, which runs from January to May 2022, features two industry highlights every month. The series of virtual forums aims to gather thought leaders and industry experts from 10 main business sectors across Brunei in engagement sessions with business owners and stakeholders to discuss the challenges, best practices, perspectives and opportunities to come back stronger.