Brunei needs to step up drive to attract Chinese tourists
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
BRUNEI and ASEAN tourism industry were urged to step up their efforts to attract the rapidly growing market of Chinese tourists.
This was brought up at a Forum on ASEAN-China Tourism held in Chengdu, China, recently.
Speaking to The Brunei Times Brunei-China Friendship Association (BCFA) President Dr Hj Kamaruddin Dato Seri Paduka Hj Talib said that an invited speaker from China stressed to address weaknesses in the region’s tourism sector.
Dr Hj Kamaruddin cited the lack of signboards which could be understood by the Chinese tourists as an example.
He also shared the experience of the Forum’s chairperson when visiting Brunei.
Dr Hj Kamaruddin said the chairperson could not develop his photographs in Brunei because nobody gave him the information on where to get it done.
“He finally developed the pictures in Singapore,” the BCFA president said.
He then called on the local tourism operators to provide quality services to attract more tourists from China.
He suggested for the local tour guides to have better proficiency in Mandarin and knowledge on the Sultanate to be more informative to the tourists.
BCFA Vice-president Lim Boon Hwa said the Forum also revealed that the number of Chinese travelling abroad is set to rise to about 115 million this year – 10 million of whom are expected to visit ASEAN countries.
“Our tourism operators need to do something (to attract more tourists from China),” said Lim.
Meanwhile, General Manager of Century Travel Sdn Bhd, C P Foo, said that concerted efforts are needed to boost the number of Chinese tourists coming to Brunei.
To do so, there is a need to promote Brunei as a tourism destination in Chinese cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou, by increasing event marketing.
Foo also underscored the importance of increasing frequency of flights between Shanghai and Brunei when demand calls for it.
At the moment, the national flag carrier Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) flies four times a week to Shanghai.
“We also need to develop more tourism products in Brunei,” said Foo, adding there is also a need for Brunei to entice tourists to stay longer.
Currently, most tourists only stayed for two days and one night in Brunei. After taking a day tour, the tourists would most likely continue their journey to neighbouring Sabah or Sarawak.
“I hope Brunei Tourism and the Association of Travel Agents Brunei can work together with tourism operators, to move the industry forward. We should all sit down more and make plans for the next following years,” he said.
Recently, Brunei Tourism said 30,471 Chinese tourists visited the Sultanate in 2013, higher than the 27,710 travelers recorded in 2012.
The Brunei Times