ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Brunei should focus on high-end tourism
BRUNEI should market itself as a high-end tourism destination as the sector has the potential to help the Sultanate diversify its economy.
“It should not be mass tourism, it should rather be high-end tourism. The sort of thing where you get high-spending tourists,”said Rajiv Biswas, chief economist at the US-based research firm IHS Inc.
Biswas said Brunei can market itself as a destination for scuba divers, golfers and nature trekkers as the Sultanate is known for its rich marine wildlife and biodiversity.
Brunei’s tropical forest, for instance, can be marketed to travellers from the UK and Germany.
“They’re willing to spend big amount of money to visit tropical rainforests and it has to be done in an environmentally-sustainable way,” he told The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the ongoing International Food and Biotech Investment Conference.
Biswas said Brunei also needs more companies that cater to these tourists.
“You need good guides to take them to the tropical rainforests, also diving experts who will bring them to diving spots in a safe and well-managed way,” he said.
Biswas said high-end tourism provides the best opportunities for Brunei.
“They (high-end tourists) spend a lot and don’t damage the economy. They’re not culturally insensitive. These are good tourists. So that kind of tourism will be very productive,” he said.
Biswas said Brunei has a good infrastructure to develop its tourism industry.
The sector already accounts for 3.2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). He said it’s possible for the tourism industry to account for 10 per cent of Brunei’s GDP in 10 years time.
But this can only be realised if Brunei will be marketed correctly.
“All that just needs to be done is to market Brunei in international cities around Asia like Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore,” he said, adding that these countries typically have high-end tourists.
He added the growing middle-class consumers in ASEAN offers a new market for the Brunei tourism industry.
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