Bahrain tourists seek alternatives due to Mideast turmoil
Manama, July 28, 2014
Civil war and political instability around the Middle East means Bahrainis are looking elsewhere for their Eid break, it has emerged.
Travel agents said turmoil in traditional destinations closer to home - such as Syria, Lebanon and Egypt - meant holidaymakers were seeking new alternatives for post-Ramadan vacations, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, they added in the current financial climate many considered Western Europe too expensive, meaning Turkey, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia had grown in popularity - in addition to more peaceful destinations in the region such as Dubai and Oman.
"Seventy-five per cent of travellers are opting for economy class," said House of Travel tours development manager Vinod Patrick.
"The middle-end customers used to travel to closer places, but not anymore because of issues in the region.
"But we expect that people will seek shorter holidays in closer areas such as Dubai and Oman, especially Salalah."
A Nasser Travel spokeswoman blamed the global economic uncertainty had resulted in a drop in business.
"Sales are not like they have been in previous years," she told the GDN.
Kanoo Travels' senior leisure travel co-ordinator Matthew Zacharia said Egypt was once a popular option, but not any more.
"Very few people have been going to Egypt this year," he said.
"The few tourists that visit Egypt go to Sharm Al Sheikh, avoiding Cairo due to the political situation.
"People have been travelling to Turkey over the past two years, and the hotel rates are competitive".
He said Western Europe remained out of reach for many families, but not only because of the costs.
"It's hard to get a visa for Europe," said Zacharia.
"The embassies are toughening their rules and regulations, making it more difficult."
Algosaibi Travel airport supervisor Abdulatheem Ali Hassan said Eastern Europe was growing in popularity, largely because of the prices.
"Tourists are travelling to Eastern Europe," he said.
"Western Europe is expensive, especially for families, who would need to take out a loan to pay for the trip.
"More people are travelling farther east to places like Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.
"The unrest in the Middle East has been affecting destinations such as Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, lowering options for cheap getaways.
"Tourists have been reluctant to visit Egypt for the last three years because of the unrest.
"Flights to Egypt are full, however, seeing as Egyptians working in Bahrain return for the holidays."
Meanwhile, a Bahrain Airport Company spokesman told the GDN that Bahrain International Airport was preparing for an anticipated rush of passengers.
"An increase of staff is being planned for Eid rush hours," he said.
"In addition to operational preparations, activities are being organised such as providing coffee and dates as well as a henna artist to celebrate Eid with a Bahraini feel." - TradeArabia News Service