Bahrain hotel rejects 'false claims by paper'
Manama, June 26, 2014
A top hotel group has hit back at claims made by an Arabic newspaper that tourists were shying away from visiting Bahrain because of political unrest.
Kempinski Hotels, which has operated the Kempinski Grand and Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre for the past two years, dismissed a report published by Al Wasat on Monday based on an interview with departing hotel general manager Puneet Singh, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The report claimed that Singh said that "rates of Scandinavian and South Asian tourists are dwindling due to the political unrest in Bahrain" - yet he denies ever having made such comments.
"Kempinski Hotels is, therefore, very disappointed to have seen articles appear which are not representative of its opinion, and the group wishes to reaffirm its interest in Bahrain as an exciting destination," said the hotel group in an official statement.
"The views and comments expressed in the Al Wasat article are not the views or comments of Kempinski Hotels or its affiliates, and were made without their knowledge or consent.
"Furthermore, there has been a misunderstanding as Mr Singh has confirmed that he was misquoted throughout this article."
Kempinski Hotel's agreement with the Majid Al Futtaim Group to manage the hotels in Bahrain City Centre ends on Monday and the mall operator wants to replace the hotel with two separate hotels under a two-brand strategy designed to maximise profit.
However, Al Wasat claimed that Kempinski's departure was down to an unwillingness on their part to operate the two hotels separately - and said that Singh thought tourism in Bahrain had taken a hit due to issues with bureaucracy and a lack of passenger air routes into the country, "which made Dubai a more favourable tourism destination".
Kempinski Hotels Middle East and Africa president Ulrich Eckhardt rubbished these claims.
"Kempinski Hotels has had a long lasting relationship with Bahrain," he said.
"And while the group will shortly cease operating the Kempinski Grand and Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre, this is purely related to our partner's business decision to adopt a two-brand strategy for the property.
"Kempinski Hotels remain committed to Bahrain and believes in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's strategy to develop the destination, and wishes to re-enter this important market as soon as possible."
Al Wasat published a long interview with Mr Singh on Monday which included questions related to the hotel's achievements and plans for the future.
It also stated that Singh worried for the future of Bahrain's tourism industry because of the reliance on tourists from Saudi Arabia, who only visited on weekends. - TradeArabia News Service