Bahrain to study tourism impact
Manama, January 7, 2008
Bahrain will soon be able to evaluate the impact of tourism on the economy following the implementation of a world-class tracking system.
The Information Ministry's Tourism Affairs will implement the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Tourism Satellite Account in the coming weeks.
The UN system is a framework used by countries worldwide to analyse the impact of tourism on the economy.
It tracks tourism expenditure, analyses the impact on the Gross Domestic Product and Gross National Product and the contribution of the industry to job creation.
"The main objective is to document how many tourists come in and out of the country, how many days they stay and how much they spend," said Tourism Affairs Acting Assistant Under-Secretary Fawzi Tolefat.
"We need this to help us prepare our strategic planning for investment and for which we need accurate information that will help us evaluate current and future requirements.
"And to link our name with the UNWTO will help encourage foreign investment in Bahrain."
The initiative is supported by the Information and Finance Ministries, the UNWTO and UN Development Programme.
Meanwhile, a new hotel classification system being developed in Bahrain is costing $500,000 (BD189,000) to establish.
It aims to bring the country's hotel classification system in line with international standards.
The three-year programme, starting this month, is funded by the government and implemented by the UNWTO and Tourism Affairs.
"The Information Ministry and the UNWTO have signed an agreement to develop the classification system for hotels and hotel apartments," said the Information Ministry's Tourism Affairs Acting Assistant Under-Secretary Fawzi Tolefat.
"The aim of the project is to develop the grading system and to show the world that it is reliable for international visitors.
"We are combining qualitative and quantitative criteria. It will be fair, reliable and match international standards.
"We have committed ourselves to a three-year contract with the UNWTO to develop the tourism industry and train Bahrainis, creating jobs for them in the process."
The hotel grading system will be developed, taking into consideration recommendations made during a UNWTO study conducted in March last year.
Over the next two months the UNWTO tourism experts will grade every hotel and those not up to the standards will be downgraded.
"The main thing is to evaluate current hotels and give them the right grading, from zero to five stars," explained Tolefat.
"We want to make sure each hotel is aware of what a particular grading requires and how to maintain this.
"The grading covers physical aspects of the hotel, experience and qualifications of staff and those managing the hotel."
While implementing the recommendations, UNWTO experts will train Bahrainis who will take over when they leave.
The experts will return in a year's time to evaluate how the system is working and to pass on help where needed.
The project is going ahead under the direction of Crown Prince and BDF Commander-in-Chief Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, His Majesty King Hamad and Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
"We want a grading system that is the best in the world," said Tolefat, adding "We will select the best practice from international standards." - TradeArabia News Service
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