Tourism Strategy

Our neighbouring country is extremely clear with what it wants. This year it targets some 100,000 tourists from the Middle East to come to Singapore. They have seen the effect in Kuala Lumpur where literally from July to September, it is almost impossible to get a hotel room. All the hotels will be filled with Middle Eastern people who thronged to the shopping malls, the restaurants, the entertainment places and such like. It's just amazing to see the number of hijab wearing ladies at Bukit Bintang area. So the Singapore government made it a point to get some of these people to come to Singapore. They are also targeting their Singapore Big Sale to be at about the same time.

In Brunei, I am not sure who we are targeting. Let me see. We don't want the backpackers because apparently we think they don't bring in much money. We don't seem to be targeting the golf tourists or the shoppers. We are no longer targeting the theme park adventurers as our beloved JP is in a serious tansitional state. So who are we targeting? I forgot, oh yes... the nature loving tourists to see our unspoilt countryside. Our much touted niche of tourism, the eco-tourism. With the number of tourists that RTB has been interviewing, I wonder how much they are spending. I wonder what they are going to spend their money on assuming they do want to spend. I don't see much things to buy around the nature parks, hmm, come to think of it, I don't even see any stores round the nature parks. So that answers another question, I wonder where they will be spending their money. I am beginning to wonder whether the focus on the relatively niche eco-tourism is the right strategy for us. If y ou ask me, there don't seemed to be that much money in it.

I mentioned before in one of my earlier blogs that I saw the Koreans going back to Seoul with their golfbags after playing golf at Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur and with bulging shopping bags after shopping sprees at KL. Can't we get some of these people to come to Brunei? It's not that far. They are in the vicinity after all. What about the Japanese? They play golf and shop too and they have money. Even the newly affluent Chinese and Taiwanese? I am not that proud to expect other people to come and spend money in Brunei. We don't have a big enough rich population that can match the spending power of the tourists with money to burn.

We are thinking of tourists who must come here for drinks and all sorts of other things. But not all tourists are like that. The few that somehow managed to find their way to Brunei looks to be enjoying themselves. We have attractions. We have the golf courses, the resort hotel, the hopping malls and other hidden treasures. We ourselves need to rethink our strategy. Otherwise, we will watch our neighbouring countries taking away all the tourists and leaving none to us.

Hello to the tourism people, anyone home?


Anonymous said…
My dad was a member of the Lions Club for years, and we played host to plenty of foreigners, including Koreans & Taiwanese. What they were shocked to not see were more celebrations of our culture. We contacted the MoCYS for material on traditional Bruneian songs and a dance instructor to put on a small show for them - I got some of my friends together to perform.

Also, I've visited other countries to meet international Lions Club members, for social or charity visits - and no matter how poor they are or the location is, they still manage to entertain us - with local food, displays of cultural entertainment arts, crafts and other handmade gifts. We were even invited to observe weddings around the time of our visits.

When people ask me about Brunei's culture, I tell them about the dying arts, local ghosts and legends, and most important of all growing up between the capital and my grandfather's house in the oil district. What many youngsters don't have now is an opinion of their own culture and roots - which is a bad thing, because culture contributes greatly to quality of life.

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