Monday, September 11, 2006

Brunei hot destination for affluent

By Ignatius Stephen

Bangkok has hit Brunei, in tourism that is.

A group of 100 Thai tourists arrived here during the weekend as part of a growing group of affluent Thai travellers who are now on the go in increasing numbers.

Leading the group is Mr Pichai Suwan, Manager, Four Seasons Service, which is a large travel agency in Bangkok.

The agency has strong Japanese links and handles groups out of Tokyo and provides other related travel services.

Previously, Brunei has seen groups from Taiwan, Korea and China. Thailand is a welcome addition, said Brunei Tourism Chief Sheik Jamaluddin. "It will help provide jobs," he added.

"Brunei is a new destination," Mr Pichai said. "It is not familiar to Thai travellers.

"The sultanate will have to tell more about itself to Thai people who are always looking out for new places to go," he told the Borneo Bulletin.

Meanwhile, Royal Brunei Airline's travel packages are bringing in independent travellers and small family groups in its highly successful stopover programmes.

Australian, British and European travellers are increasingly using Brunei as a welcome and interesting stopover point.

For example, Australians on their way to London stop in Brunei for a refreshing two to three-day break.

The airline is also developing Brunei as a hub for tourists to fan out to other Southeast Asian destinations.

"I find Brunei fascinating. It is so peaceful and its culture so unique," Mr Christian Huber, an Internal Audit Specialist with BASF in Ludwigshafen, Germany said.

He used Brunei as a focal point in travelling to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching recently.

However, Brunei's tourist industry is still at its infancy. Hotels need increased occupancy as only occasional international conventions fill them.

The owners of one well-known hotel would want to sell it. "Business is sluggish and it is not worth it," said one of the owners.

However, new hotels are coming up. The one taking shape in Kiulap will add to the more than 10 hotels that already exist in the country.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

No comments: