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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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More investors eyeing BIMP-EAGA as air linkages improve

Share on Facebook June 22, 2012, Reporter : Brunei Times, Reader : 533

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INVESTORS from Northern Asia are increasingly setting their sights on BIMP-EAGA due to improved air linkages between cities in the sub-region, a MASwings official said.

Shauqi Ahmad, the vice president of sales and marketing and regional management at MASwings, said with more flights to different cities, investors are beginning to get a clearer idea of where the best places are to do business.

He cited the Tawau-Tarakan service, which is usually "so full", that has led to the two biggest hotels inTarakan being fully-booked on a daily basis.

"Businessmen have given us good responses because they want to save time instead of making multiple stops here and there to reach the final destination," he said on the sidelines of a Tarakan familiarisationtrip organised by MASwings for travel agents from Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak.

"If MASwings didn't start its service to Tarakan, the city would not be open to international traffic, and be confined to domestic tourism," he explained.

"We are building the market for them as some of the people here don't know where to invest their money in, so they can now look at other (avenues). Tarakan has some rich people, through aquaculture or other plantation industries," he added.

Once the transportation infrastructure is improved, Indonesia, Sarawak, Brunei, Taiwan and Japan can be linked to MASwings' hub in Kota Kinabalu, said the vice president.

Over the next two years, MASwings is planning to cover almost all entry and exit points in the sub-regional bloc, such as Manado, Ujung Padang (Makasar), and Sibu.

"A lot of people living in this area can be (exposed), because some have never travelled overseas and once they start, then they will travel a lot," he said.

Shauqi said there are there are 16 million people and 12 big cities in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

"Eight million people live in these 12 cities, and there are a group that are rich and looking to go overseas. In Tarakan, there is also a group like that," he said.

So far, there isn't a carrier recognised as a Borneo or BIMP-EAGA carrier, and MASwings is hoping to capture that title.

"We are looking at getting to bigger and more places, and as there is less competition, we can focus on how to build the market," he said.

Whilst MASwings is operating its ATR72-500 aircraft, the Malaysia Airline subsidiary is confined to the airplane's two-hour capabilities.

"So our CEO has mentioned that MASwings may obtain bigger planes in future," he said.

MASwings recently went on an aggressive marketing campaign in Taiwan, where it painted 40 buses in Taipei to promote packages into Borneo which includes KK, Brunei and Kuching.

"We are getting the numbers now. They are coming in and in big numbers. When people from Taipei come they will stop in Brunei for at least one night as part of the package, especially at The Empire Hotel (and Country Club)," he said.

The VP is optimistic about getting tourists into Brunei this Hari Raya, especially as part of a muslimpackage where tourists can break fast in different restaurants around Brunei.

"Most of the people are eating out now, and in Brunei there are many choices when breaking fast out of home," he said.

As part of the Muslim package, he said tourists can do special prayers at night and go to the well-known mosques in Brunei during the day.The Brunei Times

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