BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Bruneians spent $1.16 billion (RM3.5 billion) in Malaysia last year, a three percent increase compared to 2018, Tourism Malaysia statistics showed.

Malaysia registered $1.12 billion (RM3.4 billion) in tourism receipts from Bruneians in 2018.

For a population of about 421,000, each Brunei resident spent an average of $2,755 in Malaysia last year.

In 2017, Bruneians spent $1.25 billion (RM3.73 billion) in the neighbouring country.

Malaysia is a popular destination for Bruneians due to its close proximity and favourable currency exchange.

Director of Tourism Malaysia’s Brunei office Hj Ibrahim Seddiqi Talib Wednesday said Malaysia has set a target of 1.5 million tourist arrivals from Brunei this year, exceeding its 1.2 million annual average.

Speaking at the launch of Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan holiday packages, he said Brunei remains one of the main contributors to Malaysia tourist arrivals over the last 10 years.

Data from Tourism Malaysia showed that Brunei continues to be the fifth largest source of tourist arrivals in Malaysia from January to September 2019 with 929,789 arrivals.

The top four countries were Singapore with 7.9 million arrivals; Indonesia with 2.8 million, followed by China and Thailand with at 2.3 million and 1.4 million arrivals respectively.

With the launch of the travel deals in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020, Hj Ibrahim expects the upward trend of Bruneians visiting the neighbouring country to continue.

He added, “With a target of 30 million tourist arrivals and $33 billion (RM$100 billion) in tourist receipts, we hope to lure more Bruneian as well as international tourists into Malaysia during this Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign”.

Commenting on the potential impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak on Malaysia tourism, Hj Ibrahim said he does not expect tourist arrivals from ASEAN countries to be affected as the source of the epidemic is from China’s central city of Wuhan in Hubei province.

“We take all safety measures to ensure all travellers are safe, which include conducting health screening on all tourists arriving at all entry points into the country,” he added.

Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) in a statement said it has set up a tourism recovery committee to monitor the latest development of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak.

Malaysia has also suspended granting visas to all Chinese tourists from Wuhan and Hubei on Monday.

MOTAC added that it will maintain its target of attracting 30 million tourists this year despite the coronavirus outbreak, but acknowledged that the deadly virus will negatively impact tourist arrivals from China.