Bruneians spent $1.25 billion (RM3.73 billion) in Malaysia last year, according to recent statistics from Tourism Malaysia.

That averages to $2,962 for each person resident in Brunei.

Speaking at an industry event on Tuesday, the director of Tourism Malaysia’s Brunei office said in 2017 they recorded 1.6 million tourist arrivals from the sultanate — the highest volume in the 15 years.

“Shopping in Malaysia has always been the number one choice for Bruneian tourists,” said Hj Ibrahim Seddiqi Talib, explaining that 94 per cent of Bruneians say they go to Malaysia to shop.

A recent study by Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) pinpointed four main reasons why Bruneians make the trip into bordering Malaysian cities such as Miri: price benefits, favorable exchange rates, choice availability and entertainment variety.

Tourism industry players at the launch of ‘Malaysia Special Packages’ on April 17, 2018 at the Rizqun International Hotel. Photo: Courtesy of Tourism Malaysia

Tourist volume from Brunei have been steadily growing over the past three years, from 1.13 million arrivals in 2015 to 1.4 million in 2016 and 1.6 million in 2017.

Brunei ranked fifth in tourist arrivals to Malaysia, behind Singapore at 13.3 million, Indonesia at 3.1 million, China at 2.1 million, and Thailand at 1.8 million.

In 2016, Malaysia registered 26.7 million tourist arrivals overall, worth $27 billion (RM82.1 billion) in receipts. Brunei contributed about 4.5 per cent to Malaysia’s overall tourism revenue in 2016.

Hj Ibrahim added that Malaysia is now pushing medical tourism to Bruneian consumers. On April 6, the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council signed a memorandum of understanding with local travel company Darussalam Holdings to market medical packages in Brunei.