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Opportunities increase in Bahrain tourism

Bahrain is working hard to promote its advantages as an investment destination for regional tourism. To continue this drive, representatives from the Kingdom recently attended two notable travel and leisure events:
Russia and CIS Hotel Investment Conference (RHIC) – Moscow (27-28 October 2015)
The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) joined over 350 delegates from state bodies, investors and travel industry experts from around the world. Mr. Jerad Bachar, the EDB’s Executive Director of Tourism and Leisure, contributed to a panel discussion on best practice in stimulating tourism investment through Government policy. During his visit, Mr. Bachar met tour operators specialising in outbound tourism to the Gulf region to understand their views on Bahrain as a tourism destination for Russian travellers. There was also a strategy discussion with Gulf Air’s sales agency to discuss potential development opportunities.
World Travel Market (WTM) – London (2–5 November 2015)
The EDB exhibited for the first time at this annual event, which attracts more than 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, Government ministers and international press. The EDB shared a stand, organised by the Bahrain Authority for Tourism and Exhibitions, with a number of prominent Bahrain-based companies involved in travel, including @Bahrain, Gulf Air, the Ramee Group, the Gulf Hotel, the Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain. The EDB held several meetings with potential tour operators interested in developing tourism programmes for Bahrain.
Bahrain tourism is developing steadily
The EDB’s presence at RHIC and WTM reflects the organisation’s aim to assist in developing a sustainable tourism sector by delivering an increasingly positive picture for investors.
Bahrain’s tourism is the highest direct contributor to GDP of any economy in the Gulf. Within the Kingdom, it is one of the most successful sectors, with hotels and restaurants being the fastest-growing.
Visitor numbers increased by 11.1% 2013-14 to more than 10 million, and the industry is forecast to reach almost US $1 billion by 2020.
Significant potential
The vast majority of visitors to Bahrain come from GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, especially Saudi Arabia, and are attracted by the convenience, speed and low cost of getting here by road. In addition, increased air accessibility is providing greater options for Saudi travellers through the services of Gulf Air, Saudi Airlines, and routes recently launched by Flynas. The Bahrain Airport Company announced that October passenger numbers from both Riyadh and Dammam were up by 9%.
Many Saudi Arabians visit Bahrain for short periods in order to enjoy our relaxed lifestyle, rich cultural heritage and exceptional retail experiences. However, at weekends and during regional or religious holidays, peak hotel occupancy rates can reach between 80% and 100%. There is clearly demand for greater capacity in the form of high-quality three-star accommodation and serviced apartments for larger families. The EDB is working with local developers to advise on the overall product mix to ensure Bahrain has diversified hotels that meet the demands of current and future visitors.

A changing scene
Elsewhere, the Kingdom is decidedly going further upmarket. Well-known four- and five- star hotel brands such as the Four Seasons and One&Only are opening continuously and attracting greater visitor numbers. These luxury resorts are being developed around the island and include a variety of leisure activities, with some having their own yachting marinas.
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