Investment in Bahrain’s tourism infrastructure has reached more than $13 billion, according to the Bahrain Economic Development Board. To put this in perspective, the island nation of Bahrain is the third smallest Asian nation after the Maldives and Singapore, and has a residing population of only 1.5 million.
The Kingdom witnessed significant improvement in the tourism sector in 2016 and 2017, demonstrated by the increase in the number of visitors to Bahrain from 7.7 million visitors in the first nine months of 2016 to 8.7 million visitors in the same period of 2017, registering an annual growth rate of 12.8 per cent.
According to the latest statistics issued by Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), the total number of visitors to Bahrain during 2017 was expected to reach 13.7 million. BTEA now aims to increase the number of visitors to 15.2 million by end of 2018.
“The tourism sector is one of the key investment sectors we recognise as having a strong competitive advantage for Bahrain,” says Dr Simon Galpin, managing director of Bahrain EDB. “It contributes 6.3 per cent to the country’s GDP, and is set to grow significantly, as the number of visitors and leisure activities increase. Bahrain continues to reaffirm its position as a tourism destination of choice with a number of new hotels, retail and leisure developments currently underway.”
The tourism investment projects are part of Bahrain’s large-scale infrastructure development across a wide range of sectors and are valued at over $32 billion. This public-private sector investment consists of $10 billion of government funding, $7.5 billion under the GCC Development Fund, and $15 billion worth of investment in the private sector.
As part of these developments, Bahrain International Airport is undergoing a $1.1 billion modernisation programme, set to increase passenger capacity from nine to 14 million per year by 2020. This will go hand in hand with the new five and four-star hotels and resorts in the tourism development pipeline – The Address, Vida, Fairmont and Jumeirah.
Other infrastructure investment projects include the development of a number of shopping malls such as Dilmunia Mall and the Marassi Galleria shopping complex, to join the recently opened $159 million Avenues Mall in Bahrain Bay.
Furthermore, Bahrain’s tourism strategy also extends to medical-tourism projects through King Abdullah Medical City, and mixed-use real estate projects such as Bahrain Bay, Bahrain Marina, Diyar Al Muharraq, Water Garden City, Dilmunia, and Marassi Al Bahrain where Emaar Hospitality brands The Address Hotel and Vida are under construction.
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