The strong Brunei currency is discouraging Southeast Asian tourists from visiting Brunei, the Brunei Times reported on Thursday.
The Brunei dollar, along with the Singaporean dollar, are the strongest currencies in ASEAN. The country’s currency is pegged to the Singaporean dollar.
One Brunei dollar is equivalent to about 3 Malaysian ringgit; 9,740 Indonesia rupiah; 32.9 Philippine pesos; and 25.5 Thai baht.
“Tourist arrivals (from ASEAN) are less because of our (strong) currency. We are surrounded by (countries with weaker) currencies except for Singapore,” the newspaper quoted Sugumaran Nair, a local travel agency manager, as saying.
This makes it hard for local travel agencies to sell tour packages especially to travellers from ASEAN.
“Let’s say that they used to pay 200 Malaysian ringgit for a tour package in
Brunei. Now, suddenly with the ringgit becoming weaker, what used to be 200 ringgit is now 300 ringgit if we (Brunei operators) are selling the tours at 100 Brunei dollars,” he said.
The high operational costs in Brunei also makes it hard for tour agencies in Brunei to lower their selling prices. Nair said the weak ringgit will “definitely” attract more tourists from around the region and across the world to Malaysia.
Earlier this month, Tourism Malaysia said it expects to see an increase in the number of Bruneians travelling to Malaysia as a result of the weak ringgit.
The Malaysian currency has been on a rapid decline since June last year and was even trading a few weeks ago at 3 ringgit against the Brunei dollar.
By the weekend, more and more Bruneians are taking advantage of the exchange rate travelling to neighbouring Malaysian’s Miri city for shopping.