Sports Tourism in Brunei

I was at a meeting yesterday discussing the next Hassanal Bolkiah Asean Youth Football Tournament (HBT) to be held sometime next year. This tournament was initiated as part of His Majesty's efforts to bring the youths of ASEAN countries together through football and is the only one in the region to do so. It was meant to be a biennial affair and kicked off in August 2002. However the second HBT was not held in 2004 but in March 2005 instead and now the third HBT to be held sometime next year. At the last tournament the government spent some $1 million in direct and indirect costs.

Costs are one thing. It's a worthwhile effort if there are benefits, in this case there are, though very much intangible ones. Other than the usual harmonious relationship, introducing Brunei etc, there are some benefits to our local tourism industry such as hotels etc. The only problem seemed to be sustaining this so called 'sports tourism' for it to continuously bring in the benefits to our country.

We have some of the more interesting sports facility here in the region. For the information of non-golfers, the Royal Brunei Golf and Country Club (RBGCC) at Jerudong is known among golfers as the Augusta of Asia. Augusta is one of the well known course in USA where the American Masters are played. The Brunei one is a tough and challenging course and the last time I played there, I did not even want to count the number of balls I lost. It was in the region of three boxes, I think, though since I used second hand balls, it was more like three plastic bags. Enthuasiastic golfers around the region have been making a beeline to RBGCC just for the challenge. We also have other facilities such as our watersports.

I remembered SJ, our Tourism head honcho saying in the past that Brunei is making a bid to raise its profile by hosting international sporting events such as the South East Asian Games, the World Badminton Championships and the World Shooting Championships. We had the Brunei Open Golf tournament and the Brunei Marathon as well earlier in the year. All these do cost a fair bit to run but in the long run, if it brings in the tangible benefits to our tourism industry, it will be money well spent. What I am afraid of is that we spend the money but no benefit come our way. All we would have are sportsmen coming to Brunei to get the prize money and say thank you very much for your generousity, and we hope to come back again the next time you hold the tournament to get more money.

To make sports tourism a success, need sustainability and the promotion that goes with it that we seemed not to have. We need to have consistency so that sportsmen and athletes from outside would know way in advance that they will coming to Brunei. How many people realised that the Brunei Marathon will be held again this year in December? Promotion, promotion, promotion. That way we can have the international coverage as they would know this is a yearly event and they can put it in their calendar. The international sponsors would also know in advance which event to sponsor and we would have to rely less on our own funding. Once we are established in that calendar, it will be easier to get the tourists in. They know when certain things are happenning and can plan way ahead. All these require effort and need to be coordinated. At the moment, each of the event are run individually and are held more or less at the convenience of each organisers. SJ, what say you?
photo credit: gallery


Zul-Fadly said…
The Brunei Marathon promotion is very poor. Eventhough SCB is not the main sponsor unlike last year I think only most of the runners from last year are aware of this event. Well one cannot blame then for the lack of promotion.

I had planned to take part in this year's event but with fasting and the amount of training I would have to take up after Raya it will be an uphill task for myself, so maybe next time.

I agree that these sporting events should be planned way in advance. Awareness is very important. I believe in Brunei everything seems to be last minute when it comes to hosting things. Maybe things have been planned way in advance but the general public would not know of such event until the event is near.

Funny today's blog is about sports tourism. I had a debate with my future father in law as we were discussing the earnings of the veteran taiwanese golfer who won the Brunei Open. We both wondered where did that large amount of money offered during the Open come from? When we looked at the sponsors we both agreed that it would not have totalled up to that amount surely.

And yesterday a colleague of mine who will take part in this year's marathon told me that the prize money for local runners and foreign runners are way off. I read in the brocheur that the first prize for the half marathon 21 Km was 8.5k and she corrected me and said that is for foreign or invited runners where as she said first prize for locals was only 3.5k.

Then the money will be going out of Brunei and the incentive to produce our own local professional athletes will be hampered. We should up the prize money for local so that many more will be encouraged.

I support tourism for our country but what do we do about our own people? Is it not suppose to be a win-win situation rather than favouring one side only.

I know in Business one has to spend some to win some, but open our eyes and see how much longer do we have to keep on spending to realise that the benefits need more than just mere spending but also the overall cooperation of the relevant authorities involved.
Anonymous said…
i think you meant the 'augusta' of asia.. augusta, georgia founded by bobby jones.. :)
yes, that's what strike me as wrong this morning but I couldn't remember what the right place name was.
Anonymous said…
I agree with the sirtambak comment about the unequal pay. Why Bruneian cannot get the same pay as foreigners? The only time we earn more is for the low skill stuff. Wouldn't it be a proud moment if a Bruneian actually beat a foreigner in those race, who knows it may trigger a Bruneian winning an olympic medal, just look at those African runner.
Anonymous said…
hahaha. i dont think brunei is ever capable of producing ANY athletes of world class standards. winning the olympic medla takes so much more than just mere talent. basically it involves the whole picture of the association being cooperative and a positive environment to the athletes advantage in terms of sports. Brunei athletes dont have any competition in the country itself. who to train with????

ahhh.... im busy at the moment but id like to talk about this more.

at the rate brunei is going with sports, i dont see any chance of us winning a medal in teh olympics.

the prize money for the brunei marathon is enough man. all the runners need to do is show up!
Anonymous said…
I think the way Brunei Tourism spending their money is totally wrong; they should not spent millions or hundred thousands of their budgets on the prizes but to spend more on "INTERNATIONAL PUBLICITIES". Bring STAR Sports in, ESPN, International Newswire agencies and bring top no.1 athletes into the country. By doing these, the event will get international coverage. They should learn from past lesson, the 1st. Brunei Marathon & Brunei Open Golf are the international events, but there was no publicity being made be it before or after the events. As a student studying abroad, we just relied on Brunei’s online news to get updated. These International events are only a BIG HU-HA in Brunei. Outside the country or neighbouring countries?? May be no ones knows. Our events is like a “CHARITY” that offers BIG sum of money the winners, but not promoting the country to the globe.

By the way, why is Brunei Tourism being active organizing these sport events? Where is our Ministry Culture Youth & Sports? Shouldn’t they the one who take lead??

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