BRUNEI Darussalam has moved up one position in the rankings of tourist arrivals in Malaysia – currently holding fifth spot behind Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and China, recording a total of 1.4 million visits to the multi-ethnic country last year.
Director of Tourism Malaysia Brunei (TM Brunei), Haji Ibrahim Seddiqi bin Talib highlighted this in an interview with the Bulletin during TM Brunei’s Hari Raya open office at Rizqun International Hotel last Monday, adding that this year they are targeting a figure of 1.5 million tourist arrivals from Brunei.
The drop in the Malaysian currency rate has also contributed to the surge in Bruneian tourists to Malaysia, with West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak receiving a record RM3.7 billion worth of Bruneian tourist dollars last year (the bulk of this spending was done in Miri).
“Brunei has over the years been one of our main markets. We have been serious in taking care of this market and will continue to do so,” the director added.
Another reason for the high number of Brunei tourists to Malaysia is the Sultanate’s proximity to Sabah and Sarawak; the two neighbouring Malaysian states are to Brunei what West Malaysia is to Singapore, and at the same time travel to West Malaysia is convenient, with flights to the capital Kuala Lumpur taking just slightly over two hours.
“Malaysia has also been one of Bruneians’ most popular travel destinations as both countries share a certain bond and closeness, with virtually the same culture and easy access to Halal food, while accommodation is affordable with expenses falling mostly within budget,” Haji Ibrahim Seddiqi said.
Another reason for this “closeness”, he added, is due to intermarriages between Bruneians and Malaysians; there are almost 500,000 Bruneian families staying and living in Sabah alone, and also significant populations living in Sarawak and West Malaysia due to this reason.
“This is our strength. We have also seen a rise in numbers of Bruneians opting to pursue their studies at Malaysian universities and higher education institutions, all this is made easier for Bruneians because of the presence of HRD, a company which does consultations with Bruneian students interested to pursue their studies in Malaysia.”
A rise in Bruneians travelling to Malaysia for health and medical related purposes – visiting private hospitals and medical institutions in Kuala Lumpur for example – has also been seen.
The director further disclosed that last February, TM Brunei had received delegates from the permanent secretary of Sarawak and mayor of Miri City, who have a working group with Brunei tourism.
The Miri City mayor highlighted that Bruneians are always crossing over the border to Miri. Thus it is important that they are welcomed as guests treated with good hospitality.
TM Brunei has additionally undertaken a few initiatives to meet their tourism targets this year. One of this is collaboration with local travel agents such as Pan Bright, Freme Travel Services, Anthony Tours, and Century Travel, with these travel operators providing outbound tour packages to Malaysia for Bruneian tourists.
“Ninety-five per cent of Bruneian tourists are free travellers but we want to offer them hassle-free packages complete with air tickets, transfers and accommodation with a long list of options to choose from,” Haji Ibrahim Seddiqi added.
Another of these collaborations is one with Royal Brunei Airlines (RB), with the national carrier providing Southeast Asian (SEA) Games packages to Kuala Lumpur (KL will be hosting the 29th SEA Games in August this year).
Other Malaysia travel specials also on offer by the local tour agents are the three-days-two-nights and the four-days-three-nights shopping packages.
A number of sales events such as the Super Sale from January to March, the ongoing Mega Sale from June to August, and the Year End Sale (YES) to be held from November to December are currently running in Malaysia.
For the YES sales event, TM Brunei is again collaborating with RB, allocating a portion of its budget for promotion activities and advertising in the newspapers or websites for the carrier and participating travel agents.
“It is a win-win situation. We are very positive and confident that we will reach our target. The industry players in Malaysia must also play their part in welcoming Bruneians to the country in terms of hospitality, services and products on offer, not only in Kuala Lumpur, but also other Malaysian states which possess their own uniqueness and attractions,” the director concluded.
Source : Borneo Bulletin