Despite Boycotts After Anti-LGBTQ Laws, Brunei Hopes to Elevate Tourism

In response to the recent news that the country of Brunei will implement stoning to death as punishment for gay sex and adultery, Princess Cruises has announced that they will drop their plans to dock in the country in any future travel.

Photo by pxhere

A representative from Princess Cruises told Travel Agent:


Princess Cruises is aware of the news stories circulating about the country of Brunei and the discriminatory views of the country leader towards the LGBTQ community. Although we have no calls to Brunei in 2019, we are looking at one itinerary in May 2020 and another in January 2021 that currently include a port call to Brunei, with the intention to make changes to those itineraries.

At Princess Cruises we celebrate diversity and equality and would avoid any location where any guests are not treated with dignity and respect.

The Sharia law went into effect on April 3rd, but was first introduced in 2014 by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah.

Still, the country of Brunei has not clarified whether its laws would apply to tourists. On the U.S. Embassy’s website, it states:

The Government of Brunei Darussalam will commence full implementation of the Syariah Penal Code (SPC) on April 3, 2019. The full SPC introduces new judicial procedures and punishments, including, for certain offenses and under certain evidentiary circumstances, amputation of hands or feet and death by stoning. The SPC applies regardless of an individual’s religion or nationality, although some sections of the law have specific applicability to Muslims. Brunei’s existing civil penal code and civil courts will continue to function in parallel with the SPC and Syariah Court.


Soon after the law went into effect, Virgin Australia announced that they would be terminating their Staff Leisure Travel agreement with Royal Brunei airlines that allows Virgin staff to fly Royal Brunei at a discounted rate.

A representative from Virgin Australia said in a statement:

The penal code applies to all those who board a Brunei-registered aircraft even when in Australia.


Boycotting of the country by Princess Cruises and Virgin Australia are not the first effort being made to bring awareness to this heinous law. George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres, and many other notable figures have called for a boycott of the hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei which include:

  • The Dorchester, London
  • 45 Park Lane, London
  • Coworth Park, UK
  • The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills
  • Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
  • Le Meurice, Paris
  • Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris
  • Hotel Eden, Rome
  • Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan

It is believed that the boycott on these hotels could hurt the everyday people employed by the hotels, rather than the Sultan who has a fortune estimated to be $20 billion.

Photo by pxhere

News about Brunei has shattered throughout the media, creating tourism issues in the country. Telegraph reports that Brunei only received about a quarter of a million tourists per year, but it hopes to raise that to half a million by 2021.

Royal Brunei Airlines intends to grow revenues by increasing overall tourism inflow into Brunei. The objective is to get more people to plan a Brunei holiday, and choose to fly Royal Brunei Airlines while doing so. Our idea is to position Brunei as the antidote to the modern-day stress of city life in Asia and the world.

So can boycotts like Princess Cruises truly affect the outcome of a national law?

The CEO of Responsible Travel, Justin Francis shared with Telegraph:

Whilst the Brunei government’s decision to implement barbaric such practices is appalling, that does not mean that a tourism boycott is necessarily the correct response.

It’s important to remember that the government’s response does not always accurately reflect the feelings of the people. And rather than impacting the government, jobs and livelihoods that depend on tourism would be lost, and it’s the citizens who would suffer.

If we boycotted every country that didn’t have a clean record when it comes to human rights or animal welfare, for example, we would be left with a very small handful of places which we would feel comfortable visiting.

A country is far more complex than just one issue. We believe tourists have the power to travel responsibly, even in destinations with poor rights records.

H/T: Travel Agent, Telegraph, Independent, U.S. Embassy in Brunei Darussalam

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