Brunei Tourism to identify competency gaps to deliver quality services
Bandar Seri Begawan - The country's Tourism Masterplan set its strategic direction towards achieving 50 per cent increase in the number of visitors and tourism revenue. The implementation of the masterplan is also expected to create avenues to increase direct and indirect employment opportunities for more than 2,000 people by 2015.
Mariani Hj Sabtu, Acting Director of Tourism Development Department, said this during the opening ceremony of a workshop called "GAP Analysis on Implementation of Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals and Feasibility Study for the Establishment of a Regional Secretariat for Asean Tourism Professionals", at the Radisson Hotel yesterday.
"Looking at these impressive figures and forecasts (of the masterplan), lam sure it impressed upon all of us the need to prepare ourselves now to be able to host visitors to our country to make sure that they will take home wonderful memories and experiences vacationing here.
"We therefore need to ask ourselves whether we have the capacity to deliver consistent quality of services to international visitors and even our very own domestic and regional travellers.
"More importantly, are our services consistent with the reasonable expectations of the average traveller?" she asked.
"Are our tourism service providers properly trained? And to what standards of competency should they be trained? And which standards are we going to follow or adopt?" she queried.
"I think these are the fundamental questions and issues that the Asean Mutual Recognition Agreement on Tourism, which was signed in 2009 by Asean Tourism Ministers in Hanoi, Vietnam, needs to be comfortable with. The same goes for Brunei Darussalam," she said.
Speaking about the workshop, Mariani said both the GAP Analysis on Implementation of the Mutual Recognition Arrangement and the Feasibility Study for the establishment of a Regional Secretariat for Asean tourism professionals are follow-up programmes serving towards achieving those same goals set in the MRA implementation by identifying the required minimum industry standards pertaining to tourism professionals.
She said the MRA focuses in six major groups of travel services, namely: Housekeeping, Food Production, Food and Beverages Services, Travel Agents and Tour Operators.
Since its adoption, Mariani said several projects have been completed, such as Asean Common Competency Standards for Tourism Professionals (ACCSTP), Common Aseri Tourism Curriculum (CATC) and Regional Qualification Framework and Skills Recognition System (RQFSRS).
Mariani said Brunei places great importance in the development of high quality services, competency and professionalism in our tourism and hospitality service sectors.
"We have established collaboration and cooperation among government and private institutions," she said.
She also took the opportunity to express Brunei Tourism's appreciation and gratitude to the Ministry of Education and institutions such as MTSSR and ITB for their strong support.
"But I feel that we need to do more together: she continued.
"I believe it is possible for us to leverage today's workshop as an initial point of embarkation to identify our very own competency gaps and move towards addressing them, while contributing effectively to our commitment in this area to the Asean institution," she stated.
During the workshop, Mr Jim Irwin, an Australian consultant facilitating the workshop acknowledged Brunei's potential in the tourism industry
He said, like Australia, Brunei's rich natural resources will continue to play a greater role in the economy, but the tourism industry has big potential not just in creating revenues but also jobs.
He also praised Brunei for holding international events, including sporting events, which have the potential to put the nation on the tourism map through "word of mouth".
Speaking of the GAP analysis, it is believed that one can even sit down and use today's info-communication technology to assess information, but it is not a proper way to do research, because nothing can replace face-to-face meetings such as what is being held during this workshop.
He said, Brunei, in terms of tourism, has a unique set up, unlike others who have been in the tourism game for so long. The country can start from a "fresh palette", learn from others in designing events and so forth.
According to him, the tourism industry is something that has a lot of beginning but has no end.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin