AirAsia Pass to boost Brunei's tourism: Exec

Brunei will be one of the "biggest beneficiaries" of the AirAsia ASEAN Pass as the latest product from the budget airline is expected to open up least popular destinations in Southeast Asia.

Brunei is "not on top of the travel list", according to AirAsia'sGroup CEO Tony Fernandes. But he expects the Sultanate to benefit from introduction of the regional pass as it will encourage more travellers to try out new and often overlooked destinations within ASEAN.

"Brunei is probably not on the top of the travel list, but when you have a RM499 (S$187) and 10 credits, you suddenly say hey, let's go and have a look at Brunei because it's off the normal track. These people say might as well go and try it out," Fernandes told Brunei and Malaysian media.

In a briefing held following yesterday's launch of the low-cost carrier's latest product, Fernandes said Brunei and the Philippines will be the "biggest beneficiaries" of the ASEAN pass.

"Everyone knows Singapore, and within Malaysia, its other places than Langkawi and Penang that will benefit from this kind of travel," he said.

AirAsia yesterday launched the AirAsia ASEAN Pass and the AirAsia ASEAN Pass+.

The ASEAN Pass retails at RM499 for 10 credits and ASEAN Pass+ for RM888 with 20 credits.

Holders of the ASEAN Pass and the ASEAN Pass+ can enjoy flights at a fixed-rate to over 148 routes across all 10 ASEAN countries.

Fernandes said the pass aims to liberalise and encourage travel among the ASEAN community.

"The pass allows us to bridge communities and attract more foreign tourists in the region - it's the perfect instrument to promote ASEAN integration," he said.

Fernandes said the ASEAN Pass was designed "to make flying more efficient and enjoyable".

To this end, the company's working on additional enhancements that will benefit guests travelling from non- ASEAN countries.

The ASEAN Pass also aims to limit the losses incurred from using different currencies as flights are valued according to credits.

This allows travellers to be creative in planning their ASEAN trip.

Flights with duration of below two hours are valued at one credit, while three credits will be deducted for flights of two hours and above.

Fernandes said the company has been planning to introduce the ASEAN Pass several years ago.

But regulatory and visa issues derailed its launch.