By Azlan Othman
Brunei is targeting over 200,000 tourists by the end of this year. The future for tourism looks bright judging by the increase on an average of 42 per cent in tourist arrivals in the first two months of this year compared to the same period last year, the Director of Brunei Tourism Board, Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed told the Bulletin yesterday.
The figure shows those that travel by air and does not include those travelling by land. The figure for March and April this year should be encouraging, judging by the influx of Koreans by chartered flights. Last year, some 178,540 tourists arrived by air to the Sultanate.
Elaborating on the average, the Director of Marketing and Promotion of Brunei Tourism Board, Jean Christopher Robles Espinosa, said, "In January and February, 58.6 per cent of tourists came from Australia and New Zealand and another 46.6 per cent were from China and Hong Kong. We are doing well, but there is still room for improvement."
Brunei also received a large number of tourists from Korea, considered as a high performance market, as some 1,000 Koreans visited the country as part of their incentive trip.
Asked on upcoming events, Sheikh Jamaluddin said the Asian Tour will make a come back for the fourth year and will take place in August this year. A $3 million Cultural Village will also be established at a fire-ravaged site in Kg Lurong Sikuna in Kampong Ayer. A doa selamat ceremony will take place on July 13, 2008.
"Besides ecotourism, golf is a winner for us and we see more Koreans come to Brunei to play golf. We are pushing hard on eco and sports tourism," he added.
Commenting on the Cultural Village scheduled to be completed at the end of this year, Sheikh Jamaluddin said, "Everyday tourists go to the Water Village and visit people's houses. What we want to do is to bring them to the Cultural Village to reminisce the old Water Village, history of the traditional crafts, showcase video presentations and let them buy souvenirs.
"They will have a better understanding of the culture as the village is unique to Brunei, house to 20,000 residents. It is a landmark building that would give tourists a better insight on Kg Ayer," he said.
"We also just came back from Korea and our staff will head for New Zealand to tap the transit market. We will also work with RBA and other airlines to capture the Singapore and Malaysian markets," he added.
Asked on the effect of spiralling oil prices on the country's tourism drive, Sheikh Jamaluddin said travellers are now opting for short haul destinations. Asian travellers will concentrate at nearby destinations in the Asian region.
"It has an impact on the growth of tourism globally as the cost of travelling is spiralling. The cost of travelling is being passed on to the passengers, which eventually will affect the demand for travelling.
"On this note, we are going all out in promoting the domestic "Kenali Negara Kitani" tourism campaign," said the Director of Brunei Tourism Board.
Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin