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Tamkeen stepping in to boost tourism recovery
October 2011 2748

BAHRAIN’S Tamkeen labour fund has stepped in to help the country’s travel and tourism industry get back on its feet.

The island’s hotels and meeting venues experienced a sharp downturn in business following disturbances triggered by the ‘Arab spring’ earlier this year which saw the cancellation of the Barhain F1 Grand Prix and other international events.

However Tamkeen is now entering into partnership with selected tourism enterprises offering financial help to make it easier for them to promote both their business and the island.

Hotels and travel and tourism operators can benefit by up to BD20,000 ($53,000) as the labour fund takes on 80 per cent of their promotional costs for activities such as advertising and attending trade shows, including World Travel Market which is being held in London, UK, this month.

Such help was previously available for events within the kingdom but is now being aimed at international promotion and the move has been welcomed by hoteliers who say it will enable them to attract visitors back to the island.

In association with the Bahrain Training Institute, Tamkeen has also established a diploma programme allowing young nationals to study and train for a certificate accredited by the British Institute of Commercial Management while receiving a monthly grant and on-the-job training in the fields of travel and tourism with guaranteed employment on graduation.

While no figures are currently available for 2011’s travel and tourism arrivals, the island is expected to get a substantial boost by its confirmation as Capital of Arab Tourism 2013 which was announced at a recent meeting of Arab Tourism ministers in Aqaba, Jordan – the country is also scheduled to take over the role of Arab Capital of Culture in 2012.

Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa said the pan-Arab decision confirms Bahrain’s ability to host key events and ensure outstanding presence at all international arenas.

“The choice of Bahrain as Capital of Arab Tourism 2013 adds to a string of landmark achievements over the last decade,” she said.

The Arab Capital of Culture is an initiative taken by the Arab League under the Unesco Cultural Capitals Programme to promote and celebrate Arab culture and encourage cooperation in the Arab region.

The tourism capital is chosen by the Arab Ministerial Council of Tourism and the designation is aimed at promoting both the destination and its heritage.

Acting assistant under secretary at the Ministry of Culture’s tourism sector, Nada Ahmed Yaseen, said: “We have worked closely with Tamkeen in establishing partnerships between the public and private sector.

“We held a workshop to which we invited hoteliers, travel agents and others working in the travel and tourism sector, at which Tamkeen presented the services that are available to businesses such as training and skills and the help for our organisations to participate in outside exhibitions such as World Travel Market.

“Some of these services were already there but the travel trade did not necessarily know about them so we acted as a way of putting the two together, and some of the initiatives are new, specifically aimed at helping the travel and tourism industry to recover.

“I think it is important that we get out there and send the message that Bahrain is very much back in business and things are gradually getting back to normal.

“The announcement of Bahrain as the Arab Capital of Culture in 2012 and the Capital of Arab Tourism in 2013 will go a long way towards offering people the reassurance that we are ready to welcome guests to the island.”

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