Move to promote Bahrain as 'boutique destination'
Manama, July 27, 2014
Bahrain's Culture Ministry intends to reinvent the kingdom as a 'boutique destination' - celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the country in order to increase tourism's contribution to the economy, a report said.
Four out of every five tourists who arrive in Bahrain via the King Fahad Causeway and nearly 90 per cent of them are Saudis, according to the latest figures.
Kuwaitis are the next most frequent GCC visitors to the country - accounting for six per cent of tourists from the region - while Qataris make up just two per cent of the total, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
These statistics were revealed by Culture Ministry tourism advisor Dr Heba Abdulaziz, at an event held last week to announce Bahrain's tourism strategy until 2018.
Chief among the aims of the strategy is a bid to increase tourism's contribution to Bahrain's gross domestic product, as it made up only 2.3 per cent of the total for the years 2010-2012, according to Central Informatics Organisation (CIO) records.
"This involves increasing the number of overnight stays and average tourist expenditure, increasing government revenues and expanding or improving the revenue collecting mechanism," said Dr Abdulaziz.
"We aim to get overnight stays up to 17 per cent of the total number of arrivals - with an increase in average length of stay to two nights and an increase in government revenue by 15 per cent."
At present, just 11 per cent of visitors stay overnight in hotels for an average of 1.5 nights each, Dr Abdulaziz said.
In order to meet its targets, the Culture Ministry intends to reinvent Bahrain as a 'boutique destination' - celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the country.
"Boutique, as a concept, is something that is small, high in quality and unique," said Dr Abdulaziz.
"The mission of the project is to develop an innovative, competitive, and sustainable tourism industry.
"This includes meeting visitor expectations, respecting community values, enriching cultural heritage, supporting business needs and contributing effectively to the socio-economic development of Bahrain."
Pointing to a recent United Nations World Tourism Organisation analysis, Dr Abdulaziz noted that Bahrain received a modest number of international tourists in 2012 compared to other countries in the Mena region.
"But according to the World Economic Forum 2013 report, Bahrain performed well on the tourism competitiveness index compared to other countries in the region," she said.
"The CIO's analysis of guest numbers and overnight stays in 2013 reflected that the relatively low seasonality of Bahrain is a supportive factor - the total number of hotel guests in 2013 was 835,596."
Last year, there were 8.3 million international arrivals in Bahrain, which is a significant increase on the figures for 2000, said Dr Abdulaziz.
"The CIO shows that four out of five arrivals were via King Fahad Causeway," she said.
"Sea arrivals have increased ten-fold in the last 14 years and both airport and causeway arrivals increased by about 2.5 times during that same period.
"On GCC passengers, the large majority, 89 per cent, were from Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait, six per cent, and Qatar, two per cent, and 93 per cent of these arrivals were via the causeway," she added. - TradeArabia News Service