BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Brunei Association of Hotels (BAH) is calling for more establishments to join the group as it looks to increase dialogue in the hospitality sector, amid a rise in tourist arrivals.

Currently, the 25-member association represents only half of the hotels, resorts and serviced  apartments that are under the Tourism Development Department’s (TDD) registry.

Abd Rani Siteh, the association’s president, told The Scoop that with the uptick of tourist arrivals, it is important for players in the industry to come together and form a united front.

“By helping each other through information sharing… and sharing resources, we can simultaneously help the growth of the country’s tourism sector as well as ourselves.”

The BAH aims to maintain and develop the hospitality industry in the sultanate by working closely with the government as well as private tourism bodies.

“The association is a platform for local hotels to network and share information, by doing this we also create a dialogue with each other on how to further improve the services that we provide,” Abd Rani Siteh, the association’s president told The Scoop.

He went on to say that besides sharing expertise, BAH also functions as a platform to create awareness among the public on the tourism and hospitality industry in the country, by engaging the community often in workshops that develop hospitality skills.

Abd Rani Siteh, President of the Brunei Association of Hotels and General Manager of The Capital Residence Suites. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop.

Abd Rani added that the ultimate goal of the association is to strengthen the human capital as well as infrastructure in terms of the services they provide, especially now that Brunei is seeing more tourists.

Established in the early 1990s, BAH now has 25 members including the country’s most well-known, The Empire Hotel and Country Club. However, according to Tourism Development Department (TDD) statistics, Brunei has a total of 51 hotels, resorts and serviced apartments.

Abd Rani explained that due to the lack of emphasis on Brunei’s tourism industry previously, most hotels do not feel the need to become a member as they did not foresee any benefits.

He noted that things have changed with the association being a member of the Brunei Tourism Board, a body that consists of key players in the country’s tourism industry.

“The environment of the tourism industry nowadays is very different, tourism is now a ministerial body compared to being just a department not too long ago. Now, there is a strong collaboration between the public and private sector in trying to promote and market the country’s tourism products.”

Official data indicate that in the first quarter of this year, the total number of international tourist arrivals to Brunei Darussalam increased to 70,729 — a 4.1 percent rise compared to the 65,747 tourists of the same period last year.

“We have the ASEAN Tourism Fair 2020 which will be held in Brunei to look forward to, when that day comes, there will be tourism industry players coming form all over the region”.

He added that with these networks and connections to numerous tourism organisations, local and international, previous non-members can take the opportunity to strengthen their brand and reach a wider market by being part of the association.

“Regardless of the size of the hotel, or which district they come from, we welcome all, because this association is a platform for us key players in the industry to contribute to the nation’s growth. It is a place for us to help improve our economy.”