Sarawak wants more Brunei tourists

National 2 minutes, 23 seconds


SARAWAK’S retail and hospitality sector should capitalise on the favourable exchange rate between the Brunei Dollar (BND) and Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) to ensure visitors continue to flock across the border, said Sarawak’s chief minister yesterday.

Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem said, at Pullman Miri Waterfront’s grand opening, that the 3 MYR to 1 BND rate — first recorded in August last year and has fluctuated only marginally since — ensures that Miri continues to see high traffic from Brunei.

“With the Brunei Dollar (to Malaysian) at three to one, weekends are always crowded with visitors from Brunei,” said Datuk Adenan. “We encourage it, it is good for the economy.”

Arrivals from Brunei to Sarawak dipped to a four year low of 1.6 million last year, but the sultanate still represented the lion’s share of Sarawak’s international tourists at 63 per cent.

Adenan said the entry of the Pullman franchise into Miri — the first five-star international chain to open in the city in more than a decade — is a step in the right direction towards developing Miri’s aspirations as Sarawak’s resort city, and sets a precedent for more tourists from Brunei and around the world to visit.

He also singled out China's outbound tourism market — currently the largest and fastest growing in the world — as also being significant for Sarawak's future tourism development.

To further tap into the Chinese market, Sarawak's Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shim revealed that he is working with the Brunei government to hopefully set up a Sarawak-Brunei joint tourism working committee by the year's end.

“The committee will mutually promote foreign visitors coming to Miri to visit Brunei, and for foreign visitors coming to Brunei to also visit Miri,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the grand opening.

“In particular the committee's efforts will be towards facilitating smoother travel for these tourists across, including matters such as visa on arrival.”

Datuk Lee said there is already interest from Chinese tourists, especially from the Hebei and Hubei provinces, to visit both countries.

“There is definitely potential (for joint tourism). The tourists themselves have indicated that once arriving in Miri they would like to visit Brunei by road,” he said.

Meanwhile Pullman Miri’s General Manager Michael Weiss said that visitors from Brunei continue to account for the hotel’s single biggest market share, ranging between a third to a half of all guests.

With 328 rooms and 24 floors, Pullman Miri is the city’s tallest hotel as well as the biggest by number of rooms.

It was constructed by Malaysian developer Unique Harvest, a subsidiary of the Interhill Group, who also own Sarawak’s first Pullman Hotel in Kuching.

The Pullman brand, which falls under the AccorHotel’s upscale line-up, has more than 100 hotels across Africa, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

The Brunei Times