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25 Apr, 2016

Bahrain targets tourism receipts worth US$1 billion by 2020

Bahrain returns to ATM this year to showcase its expanding hotel and tourism infrastructure with an active hotel pipeline of 13 properties, 3,000 hotel rooms and with tourism expected to contribute US$1 billion by the end of the decade.

The increase in rooms, which are split between the luxury and four-star brackets, is set against a backdrop of occupancy levels above 52% as per CB Richard Ellis data, and average rates are in line with similar market movement in other regional hubs.

According to the country’s Economic Development Board, its tourism sector was expected to grow further in 2015, after continued gains in the 2014 visitor numbers of 10 million, an 11% increase over the previous year.

US-headquartered chain, Wyndham Hotel Group, has four properties under development and due to open within the next 12-18 months while Emaar Hospitality Group has announced plans to launch four hotels under its Address and Vida brands, by 2018. Luxury Asia-based brand, Anantara, will also open on Durrat Al Bahrain in 2018.

“Bahrain is making significant investment into its tourism-related infrastructure, including a much-needed $1.1 billion airport expansion, and also has plans to expand its current exhibition centre to accommodate large-scale events across all categories; so this year’s ATM will provide an excellent platform for the Kingdom’s tourism and hospitality community to highlight their future vision for the country,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market.

In addition, a new $3 billion road and rail crossing is being planned for completion in 2018, to reduce the congestion on the existing King Fahd causeway which is used by 10 million vehicles a year. The new causeway and bridge, would undoubtedly increase family travel from all states connected to the proposed GCC rail network, offering Bahrain access to a broader range of mid-market travelers.

According to the Q3 2015 YouGov Travel Oracle insight report, one-third (36%) of surveyed leisure travellers choose budget hotels when travelling for pleasure, with Asian expats the most likely to opt for low cost accommodation (52%) and 35% of all respondents stating that reasonable cost is one of the most important elements when considering a leisure destination.

Overall, 41% of travellers interviewed had a per person trip budget of US$1,000 or less, thus putting cost high on the priority list.

“This clearly demonstrates the growing appetite of travellers for a wide array of accommodation options, and in offering mid-market options this frees up additional visitor spend for other tourism activities,” said Noblet-Segers.

The YouGov report also looked at business travel with 15% of total respondents reporting a decrease in corporate travel budget over the last 12 months, which is accordingly highlighting an opportunity for mid-level brands to target the newly budget-conscious corporate traveller.

“Bahrain is an all-round destination as either an ideal short break location for GCC residents, especially those from Saudi Arabia, or for Europeans in search of summer sun, as well as for business travellers and conference delegates,” added Noblet-Segers.

Bahrain-based companies confirmed to participate at ATM 2016 include the Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Culture Tourism Sector, Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa, 24x7rooms.com, Gulf Hotel and Sabre.