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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    13  July  2016  

Brunei’s tourism to grow by 2.5% in 2016: WTTC

THE World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has forecasted Brunei’s tourism sector to grow by 2.5 per cent in 2016, increasing the industry’s GDP contribution to $322 million.

In its annual report, the WTTC predicted that the tourism sector will grow, on average, 7.5 per cent per annum through to 2026 to reach around $710 million or 2.3 per cent of GDP.

This is still well below the average for the region compared to neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia where tourism contributes about 11 per cent and 16 per cent to GDP respectively.

Even Laos, one of ASEAN’s least developed economies, saw tourism contribute $600 million to national income in 2015.

Tourism is seen as a growth industry that could help spur Brunei’s economic diversification, with the government devoting $6.4 million in “special expenses” for the current fiscal year to develop tourism products, focusing on Ulu Temburong National Park, Bandar Seri Begawan and Kampong Ayer.

The WTTC estimated that tourism in Brunei supported 4,500 jobs directly, making up 8.2 per cent of the country’s employment. By 2026, the industry could generate up to 7,000 jobs, equivalent to an increase of four per cent per year.

Brunei recorded 250,000 visitor arrivals in 2015, contributing about $316 million to the local economy. According to the Tourism Development Department, tourist numbers saw a 8.6 per cent hike over the past year, driven by a spike in visitors from China.

Malaysia still accounted for the largest source of international arrivals at 26 per cent, followed by China at 17 per cent.

The ASEAN market as a whole accounted for 54 per cent of all arrivals by air, followed by the Far East market at 21 per cent, Europe and the Middle East at 12 per cent and Australia at five per cent.

In terms of purpose for visiting Brunei, leisure and holiday accounted for 40 per cent of all air arrivals, meetings and conventions represented 19 per cent, while visiting friends and relatives made up 12 per cent.

Transit travellers represented 11 per cent of air arrivals and government-related travel accounted for three per cent.

The Tourism Development Department has identified two main focus areas for tourism: culture, heritage and Islamic tourism; and nature-based tourism.

In a recent interview with The Brunei Times, Acting Tourism Director Hj Zulzalani Hj Osman said the government’s move to privatise parks and beaches should boost the running of several tourism facilities.

“We are focusing on product development, especially those that are already doing well and are able to attract tourists,” he said.

“The most apparent one now is the privatisation of parks and beaches. We will be inviting those in the private sector to run, operate and manage the parks and beaches. They will develop tourist activities and facilities that will entice not only the locals to visit our attractions but also foreign tourists.”

Hj Zulzalani added that 2015 marked the first time Brunei won two ASEAN Homestay awards, and that the rise of traditional homestays could lure more visitors seeking an authentic experience.

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By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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