Monday, October 24, 2011

Brunei Tourism goes big in China

By Hakim Hayat in Nanning, Guangxi, China

Brunei Darussalam has marketed itself very well to the China consumers as more awareness on Brunei gets infused to targeted markets of holidaymakers through mediums such as social media, TV and magazines. It has proven to be a success as Brunei sees the prospect of an increase in Chinese tourist arrivals this year. Brunei is also marketing itself as a high-end tourist destination, emphasising on its Royal Heritage and legendary customs, which garnered much amusement from the China market.

The Brunei Tourism Board has also set KPI (Key Performance Indicator) targets for its tourism marketing representative offices in China, instituting a competitive edge for each office to perform well and reach their specific targets in attracting more tourists from China.

Speaking to the Bulletin yesterday was Salinah Salleh, Tourism Officer for Promotions and Marketing at the Brunei Tourism Board, who is in charge of the Brunei City of Charm Pavilion at the 8th China-Asean Expo and Raymond Kong from Beijing Longway, who is the Deputy Chief Representative of the Brunei Tourism Representative Office in China.

According to Salinah, "Tourist arrivals from China is up by 75 per cent from January to February this year as compared to the same period last year. Overall, the tourist arrivals from the China market between 2009 and 2010 are up by 56 per cent."

The Bulletin asked Raymond to share their marketing methods and strategies to attract more visitors to Brunei, to which he responded, "We are more focused on the leisure group and the MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) grouping in the China market. But our main focus is on the leisure groups."

Salinah mentioned that Brunei Tourism Board in the past has been participating in exhibitions, seminars and roadshows on travel in many parts of China and Hong Kong but the problem is they only come once during the expo and there are no proper follow up agents. "Whereas now, ever since we appointed Beijing Longway, our tourism marketing representative here in March, they are now the faces of Brunei Tourism. If the people here have queries and want to know more about Brunei, our representatives will be of great help," said Salinah.

She also revealed that the Beijing Longway also represents Royal Brunei Airlines and The Empire Hotel and Country Club. "This is the only way. They have a firm grip of Brunei as a market so they can help promote it better, because in China, we need a Chinese-speaking person and for their part, they are one of the biggest travel companies in China," she added.

Raymond said that their efforts are bearing fruit now as more people in China know about Brunei. "It is coming through and going forward," he said.

Salinah said in terms of volume, it will, for sure take time to get a significant influx of Chinese tourists into Brunei and it will not happen in just a short period of time. "For now, I think they have done quite a good job in raising the awareness."

Raymond also revealed that they are using social media as an effective platform in promoting Brunei Tourism in China. "Webo is a popular social network website based in China and works on the same platform similar to Twitter and Facebook. It is a very powerful social media tool now and people like to 'follow' each other's news feeds in order to be alert of the latest happenings and issues going around here," he said.

On the Brunei Tourism Webo site, Raymond said people can get the latest news on Brunei Tourism and also the latest information on Brunei. "For instance, we can transfer topics on China superstars on Webo that they are coming to Brunei for a visit. This has generated a lot of attention."

They are also on the look out for celebrities from China to come to Brunei to do their filming. "We will have one coming soon, where a a movie will be shot in Brunei, featuring a top celebrity from China," he added.

The largest TV network in China, CCTV will be in Brunei next month for a familiarisation film shooting and once ready, it will reach to millions of TV viewers in China. "This will allow more exposure on Brunei to China and the viewers will have an idea and feel on what it is like to visit Brunei. From this exposure, we hope to attract more tourists and get more TV stations to go to Brunei to film their documentaries or shoot their films there," Raymond revealed.

Raymond also mentioned that their marketing strategy is not only limited to tourism as they are also constantly on the look out for trade partnerships from China to Brunei. "There is a big potential for the industry, we are looking out for trade partnerships in the media, industries and commercial businesses as well."

Raymond commented that travelling to Brunei may not come cheap. "We always tell them that Brunei is not a cheap travel destination and is considered as high-end, so we are constantly looking at a niche market of high-end holidaymakers and people looking for a reasonable priced trip."

Salinah said Brunei is not exactly a mass tourist destination and they are not targeting millions of arrivals annually and they are not competing with other countries in the region. "We are on the look out for the niche market, a market segment who travel the world and wants to see something different."

The Royal Heritage of Brunei is also the main attraction making the Chinese market more interested in visiting the country and this is the main image that they would like to unleash. "Unlike other countries, Brunei still preserves this majestic heritage. Brunei might be a simple destination but royalties are such a fascination to the Chinese because it links to their legendary dynasties and empires way back," Raymond said.

A Brunei Tourism Official Website dedicated to the China market has also been actively implemented in China, according to Raymond. is also linked to the main website in Brunei. The website, in Chinese language, is also updated constantly, publishing latest news and promotions on Brunei Tourism.

"Having four representative offices here in China at Shanghai, Shenzen, Beijing and Nanning and with television, magazines and newspapers featuring advertisements about Brunei Tourism, we are all out here now," Raymond said.

Salinah said the expansion reach of the company in China has led them to select Beijing Longway as their representative office. "They have KPIs to reach a specific target and have all the collaterals, brochures, information and equipped with everything the people here need to know about Brunei and how to get about here," she said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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