Like many other countries, Brunei Darussalam also felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its tourism industry. Various initiatives have been carried out by the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT), particularly the Tourism Development Department, to strengthen the tourism industry by introducing several domestic tourism packages.
The main function of the Tourism Development Department is to formulate national policies or strategies relating to travel and tourism in Brunei. The department also shoulders the role to plan in developing and promoting Brunei as a travel and tourist destination and enhance the travel and tourism sectors’ contribution to the Brunei economy.
With the announcement of re-opening of land borders starting August 1, 2022, the number of tourist arrivals in Brunei has steadily increased as the country embarked on the transition phase and eased its travel restrictions.
Hospitality and tourism service providers as well as operators have seen a significant increase in bookings and visits from foreign tourists. Some 15 leading hotels in the Sultanate also reported seeing a hike in terms of room bookings, from 8,271 to 12,406 or a 50 per cent increase from August to September 2022. This showed a positive impact that the tourism industry is gradually returning to a pre-pandemic situation.
While the country has eased its travel restrictions, Brunei still adapts the standard operating procedure (SOP) to curb COVID-19 infection in addition to adapting to regrow the industry by promoting domestic tourism and highlighting emerging products with the potential to be developed as tourist attractions.
These product packages were produced in collaboration with stakeholders including the Association of Travel Agents Brunei, Brunei Association of Hotels (BAH), service providers including community based products and the village consultative councils.
Apart from ‘prime and heritage products’ such as Kampong Ayer and Bandar Seri Begawan, the Tourism Development Department has also added new products through collaborations with district offices, by using activities from village consultative councils for tourism products.
The department has also started promoting Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism that are popular in Singapore and Hong Kong by organising media conferences and exhibitions.
Last year, 8,000 visitors were recorded in a hybrid conference organised by the MPRT, and the ministry already has the foundation in place to organise international conferences and hopes that MICE tourism will further develop.
Meanwhile, digital technology has been used to promote Brunei tourism and offer more convenience to tourists, such as making use of digital marketing through social media and a pilot project for a mobile phone app that provides more information in different languages.
Copyright 1993 Borneo Bulletin Yearbook All rights reserved.