Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Brunei Tourism in no-win situation over 'won'

By Azlan Othman

The economic crisis and the weakening Korean won are forcing many South Koreans to give up their holiday plans overseas including Brunei.

A local tourism expert told the Bulletin that the Korean market is very seasonal and they go from one destination to another.

"The Sultanate as a destination peaks for golfing holiday. Yes, people are affected by the economic crisis and countries that go for mass tourism feel the impact more. The tourists have to forgo the holiday to make their ends meet.

"However, the target market for Brunei may not affect much. Tourists may opt to go for short haul destinations instead and Brunei is one of those in the list of short haul destinations.

"But Brunei is still participating in the Korean Travel Fair. There is still a need for our presence to be felt. Tourism is not a one-day or a one-week event.

"We can't stop promoting the Sultanate during these hard times. Creating awareness for Koreans and making our presence felt at this time is crucial," he added.

In January last year, 1,000 won was worth about B$1.50. But as of yesterday, 1,000 won had weakened to about B$1.

Latest figures showed that in November last year, Koreans spending on overseas travel and education fell by the most in a decade because of the weakening currency and the slump in the economy.

And the future remains uncertain.

The Korean central bank predicts the annual economic growth will slow to an 11-year low of two per cent this year.

Meanwhile, a souvenir shop that caters for Korean tourists told the Bulletin that the number of visitors reached its peak in April last year when some 4,000 Koreans visited Brunei as part of their incentive trip.

"We used to receive some 15 Korean tourists in a day and hundreds of tourists in a month during the good times. But now it's not that much."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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