Tourist Visit Brunei
While has seen an increase in cruise passenger arrivals visiting at the Brunei Sultanate, there was no immediate need to hire foreign-speaking guides to cater to these tourists because the volume of arrivals doesn’t warrant it, an official yesterday said.
In an interview, Brunei Tourism director of marketing and promotions Jean Christophe Robles Espinosa said while he welcomed more tourist workers who speak foreign languages to cater to these tourists, he dismissed an immediate need for foreign speaking guides, saying that “while there was a good mix of locals and foreign tour guides, most of the people hired were to act as tour guides in Bahasa Melayu, English or Chinese.
“Hiring foreigners like French, German or Russian is just too expensive because there isn’t enough constant volume of the target (and) usually when they come to a place like Brunei, (the tourists) tend to be more English speaking and (this service is) mostly for the cruise ship staff.”
Travel trade newspaper TTG Asia has reported that the number of cruise ships calling on Brunei has increased since 2007, due partly to the growing number of international liners plying Southeast Asian routes. Citing figures from Brunei Tourism, TTG Asia said in 2009, total cruise passengers rose to 19,400 from 17,450 in the previous year.
When asked if he thought there was a particular need to address the issue of a lack of foreign-speaking guides, Espinosa said, “No, because it’s a question of volume. We’re talking about a few thousand of cruise passengers a year, who do not speak English, and what’s more it’s not regular during the year. They usually come at the first few months of the year, and the last few months of the end of the year. They don’t come so much in the summer months because the ships are going closer to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean during those times.”
The solution, Espinosa added was for local guides to “pick up foreign languages”, but conceded that it would take some time, but would be something useful for the future.
“(However), because the industry is growing and the number of cruise ships is going to be increasing, it’s something that should be recommended.
“Enlisting the assistance of foreign expatriates residing in Brunei was also a temporary option to hiring a permanent foreign-speaking guide, due to the long process of applying for work permits,” he said.
He said foreign languages are an asset to locals who want to work in the tourism industry, especially with figures for cruise ships bringing in international tourists expected to rise exponentially.
He said he “personally encouraged people to learn foreign languages, because it’s a skill that serves in life”, particularly in the tourism industry, or for people looking to tour guiding as a profession. “(They) should seriously look at learning other languages to a level where they are proficient and they can (communicate) in that language,” he said when asked if second languages could help to increase the level of professionals in the tourism industry.
To cater to the cruise segment, Brunei Tourism provides traditional welcome receptions when the ships call at Muara Port, said Espinosa, complemented by the Cruise Ship Centre at Muara Port, which is managed by the Brunei Port Authority, to provide services such as money-changing stalls, souvenir shops, including handicraft items, as well as food and beverage outlets.
By Ying Chia
By Ying Chia
The Brunei Times
The Brunei Times