The Brunei Tourism Board predicts another 220,000 tourists coming into the country in 2011. With an average stay of 3 ½ days per visit, the figure amounts to 2,000 tourists on any given day, romping the streets of Brunei Darussalam.
What the number means depends largely on how you frame your business. If you are in retail or food and beverage industry, the extra 2,000 people circulating the street spell great opportunity for growth. The question is how do you secure a share of their spending.
The top five visitors come from the following countries: Malaysia, China, United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia.
The Malaysian tourists visit Brunei for the obvious reasons; its proximity and as a crossing point between Sabah and Sarawak.
The Opportunities? According to the Marketing Director of Brunei Tourism, Mr. Chris Robles, we need to look beyond the usual tourism destinations to earn money from this sector. Chances are, these group of tourists would have been in Brunei for multiple occasions.
With our low taxes on imported products comparing to our neighboring country, Brunei retailers shall capitalize on selling high-end consumer goods to our Malaysian partner. Robles cited the growing trend of Malaysian shopping in Supa Save for Australian product as a perfect example of more things we can come up with to cross sell to them.
Another example would be destination point shopping like the recently opened Toolbox in Jalan Muara that sells home improvement products, a concept store that is no where to be found in Sabah & Sarawak. Robles draws parallel of Toolbox to the like of Ikea in the western country, that brings in millions of people from neighboring states to visit.
An important point to note from the inbound statistics is that the second largest tourist group that comes to Brunei are from mainland China. Which means, it is no longer acceptable if you are in the traveling industry or even the retail sector and are not be able to converse meaningfully with your guests in Chinese. The mindset of Brunei people needs to change; tourism is every citizen’s responsibility. SMEs need to think about the spill over effect of the tourism industry. “In a larger context, when a group of tourists come to Brunei, it affects the entire ‘eco’ system.Where there is demand in tour buses, there will be an increase in demand in bus maintenance and the replacement of tires. We are, in one way or in another in the tourism business.”