November 7, 2007
Visit Brunei Year eagerly awaited
Hotels in Brunei await the government's decision to expedite its Visit Brunei Year as this is expected to reenergise the tourism sector.
The marketing blitz that will go with it is seen to benefit the sultanate's hoteliers, some of which have had to put up with 30-40 per cent room occupancy rates. "At the moment, our occupancy rate is very low," a representative from a hotel in the capital told The Brunei Times.
To counter the problem, she suggested more tourist spots to be established and for the Visit Brunei Year programme to be expedited. "I think it (Visit Brunei Year) has been postponed so I'm not sure when it will occur. But they should have it soon as it will be a much needed boost for the tourism sector and in turn benefit hoteliers in Brunei."
Most hotels interviewed by The Brunei Times that are running low occupancy capitalise on seminars and conferences.
The hotel representative also cited entry points into Brunei as being a contributing factor to the lack of tourists in the country. "Visa applications and flight scheduling need to be tidied up to better accommodate visiting tourists," she said. Likewise, Kuala Belait Riviera hotel manager Thayundi said that a lot more needs to be done to create more interesting places for tourists to visit, especially in Belait district.
The hotel manager believes that attractive landmarks would enable the oil town to get a bigger share of the leisure market. "At the moment, most of our clients are experts who are here on a working visit. We rarely get any leisure (travellers)." Sports tournaments and entertainment hubs also play an important role to attracting tourists. An executive at one of the hotels in Brunei-Muara area agrees that the government has done a great job in promoting Brunei especially for its ecotourism potential. But Brunei can do more, with all the facilities to accommodate sports tournaments such as golfing events on a more regular basis.
"Although I think the Visit Brunei Year will not follow through as expected, Brunei should still (learn) certain aspects of the current Visit Malaysia Year and see how we too can make (ours) a success," the hotel executive said, adding that more entertainment and recreational venues should be constructed.
Brunei recorded approximately one million foreign visitors in 2003. Brunei Tourism estimates the number of bona fide leisure and business tourists to be around 100,000 in 2003, with a three-day average length of stay. Most of these tourists originated from the short and medium-haul markets.
Courtesy Brunei Times