BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — The government has launched a domestic tourism campaign on Wednesday to encourage residents to visit local attractions and spend on Brunei-made products in a bid to cushion COVID-19’s impact on the hard-hit tourism industry.

Dubbed “Selera Bruneiku” or “A Taste of Brunei”, the campaign aims to attract locals on a local food journey while enjoying various activities to stimulate domestic tourism growth.

Tourism has been one of the hardest-hit industries amid the pandemic, as the country has shut its borders since March 24.

Tourist arrivals, which had been on an upward trend before COVID-19 struck, plunged more than 70 percent year-on-year in March, according to the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies.

The pandemic has shifted the focus to domestic tourism to stimulate economic growth.

A machete-making workshop is one of the events organised as part of the domestic tourism campaign. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Over 50 activities lined up for campaign

The Tourism Development Department is collaborating with hotels, travel agencies and other service providers to promote the domestic tourism campaign, which includes over 50 activities such as archery, river cruising and jungle trekking.

Locals can also opt for cultural tours such as Mandian Puteri in Tutong or a visit to the Mendaram Besar and Teraja longhouses in Mukim Labi, Belait.

Hotels have also created a “complete-stay package” where guests can dine in, stay and participate in various tour packages.

The domestic tourism packages have created more than 100 jobs locals, the department said.

Acting director of tourism development Salinah Hj Salleh said the campaign launch is timely for the upcoming school holidays in December.

The domestic tourism campaign is held as part of the annual Brunei December Festival, which organisers will release more details soon.

Safety measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 whilst promoting domestic tourism activities, including temperature checks and physical distancing.

Inspections and spot checks were also conducted on premises such as restaurants, public toilets and places of interest to monitor the quality of services.

Some of the dishes made by Eco Ponies Garden at the launch of the domestic tourism campaign. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Tourism providers get customer service training

The department also launched customer service training programmes that incorporate Islamic values for tourism providers.

The training was in collaboration with education training institutions such as SEAMEO VOCTECH and Seri Begawan University College of Religious Studies. 

“The training was part of the downtime we have when we don’t have any tourists. We took the time to ‘train’ the industry, it provided us with the opportunity to build and enhance their skills,” Salinah said.

Six restaurants participated in the first batch of the training.

The next phase of the training will be extended to hotel staff, Royal Customs and Excise Department, Immigration and National Registration Department, as well as museums and mosques.