With Brunei December Festival, Sultanate hopes to eclipse 2017 tourist arrivals

MPRT says it's on track to achieve 278,000 tourists in 2018, a 14% increase from 2017

His Majesty launched the Brunei December Festival - a month-long series of promotional and recreational activities designed to boost visitorship and spending in Brunei.

The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) are confident of achieving their target of 278,000 tourists this year – a 14% increase from last year which would represent the highest number of arrivals officially recorded in Brunei.

Deputy permanent secretary of tourism at MPRT Wardi Hj Mohd Ali said that they achieved approximately half of their annual target in the first six months of 2018, positioning them to end the year – which typically sees more arrivals on average – on an all-time high.

“With the Brunei December Festival (BDF) back for the second time this year with more than 60 events (compared to last year’s 40) we are confident of ending the year strong and exceeding last year’s arrivals,” he said this morning after His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam launched BDF at Taman Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) in the capital.

His Majesty took the time out to visit the organisations participating in BDF, who set up booths to promote their respective events and initiatives.

Last year, Brunei recorded 258,955 tourist arrivals through the Brunei International Airport, surpassing 2011’s 242,061 – previously the highest recorded number of tourists since officials begin officially collecting data in the early 2000s.

Brunei’s growth owes largely to its ability to tap into China’s rapid growth as the world’s largest outbound tourist market. In the first three months of 2018, 46% of all tourist arrivals to Brunei were Chinese nationals, up from 38.9% from the same period last year.

Improving connectivity has played a key role; Royal Brunei Airlines now services five Chinese destinations, with Beijing expected to commence this month. Chinese low-cost carrier Lucky Air has also opened up flights from Nanning and Kunming.

Before officiating BDF, His Majesty accompanied by HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, HRH Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel and HRH Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah cycled around Bandar Seri Begawan.

Wardi added that increased traffic must be followed through with rewarding visiting experience on the ground, with special events and promotions needed alongside more standard sightseeing fare. MPRT is targeting $140 million in tourism receipts this year.

“With 60 events this time, there is plenty for both tourists and Bruneians to do in December,” said Wardi.

“With each BDF we are looking to do things bigger and better. We have worked with the private sector to host more events this time – and we’re striving to have more regional and international events here to draw in the crowd.”

Last year’s inaugural BDF drew 98,000 visitors, the majority who were local. This year’s edition ranges from food festivals to cultural experiences to sports and adventure excursions.

International events include the ASEAN Rover Moot, World Traditional Archery Competition, World Nasyeed Festival and the South East Asia Drone Race Championship.

Personnel adjust Brunei’s longest line of Kelupis, which stretched around 700 feet with 5,000 individual pieces.

Yesterday launch also saw the officiating of the Brunei Book of Records, a new initiative that will compile and showcase unique feats done locally, acting as a platform for Bruneians to test their abilities on a national then international level.

Manager of Ayu Atiqah Event Management Hj Duraim Hj Mohd was one of the first to be certified with a record, showcasing Brunei’s longest line – some 700 feet – of braided Kelupis, a small glutinous rice roll originating from Borneo.

CEO of Barakah Media – who are the book’s publisher – said that Hj Duraim’s attempt would be submitted to Guinness World Records.

“With the Brunei Book of Records, we will be better able to identify and develop the talents of extraordinary Bruneians,” said Joanna Hj Osman. “It will be something that we can be proud of, and set up potential feats and showcases that can draw tourists.”

Tourism is one of Brunei’s five economic priority clusters, with MPRT setting a short-term target of drawing 450,000 tourists arrivals in 2020.

To view the full schedule of Brunei December Festival visit Brunei Event’s website.