Bahrain focuses on unique experiences

Since its inception, the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) has focused its efforts on promoting the island nation of Bahrain as a unique destination to create unforgettable experiences for tourists. The BTEA continues to develop projects in line with its long-term tourism strategy under the umbrella of ‘Ours.Yours’ with an aim to attract visitors by offering unique and unforgettable experiences.

Recently, the BTEA collaborated on one such experience with the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE) and various private and government entities to develop the world’s largest underwater theme park, ‘Dive Bahrain,’ which launched in September 2019.

Covering an area of 100,000 square metres, the dive site features the largest aircraft ever to be submerged, a 70-metre long decommissioned Boeing 747, as its centrepiece alongside artificial coral reefs and other submerged sculptures to create a safe haven for marine life to thrive.

The project was implemented in accordance to the highest environmental standards and best international practices, given the site provides marine researchers with rich information and data on marine ecology and biology.

Dive Bahrain comes in line with the BTEA’s strategy, which focuses on developing unique tourism products and experiences that sets Bahrain apart from its competitors to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy in line with the Kingdom’s 2030 Economic Vision.

“In 2020, BTEA will continue to develop projects in line with its long-term strategy that focuses on four pillars – ‘awareness, attraction, access and accommodation’; this includes improving the overall accessibility of the Kingdom of Bahrain, attracting additional exhibitions and conferences, enhancing the quality of services in the tourism and hospitality sectors, and strengthening the position of the Kingdom as an ideal tourist destination for international tourists, with a special focus on families,” said the chief executive officer of BTEA, Nader Al Moayyed.

Family entertainment always remains at the core of BTEA’s strategy and is continuously expanding its calendar and variety of events and festivals held in the country, successfully attracting thousands of visitors from the region and abroad. BTEA continues to host events that are highly favoured by tourists, such as the annual Light Festival in additional to the Bahrain Food Festival which will be held this winter. Both events are highly anticipated by locals and tourists alike, featuring a variety of family-friendly activities and entertainment suitable for visitors of all ages.

As part of BTEA’s efforts to promote the Kingdom of Bahrain and its unique tourism components abroad, with an aim to increase the number of inbound visitors, BTEA strategically positioned seven representative offices in KSA, India, France, Germany, Russia, Kuwait and the United Kingdom. These representative offices have played an integral role in increasing the number of inbound visitors by promoting packages to the Kingdom to international travel agents and tour operators.

As a result of these representative offices, over the last year, the total number of inbound tourists from the various locations have increased exponentially. KSA’s office resulted in 31,500 tourists whose combined spending total reached BD14,106,524 ($37,427,763), tourists coming in through the Russia Representative office amounted to 5,839 and spent BD3,109,153, and visitors resulting from the UK representative office amounted to 3,498 whose combined spending total reached BD1,785,695.

With regards to India, the total number of inbound tourists reached 2,346 and their spending amounted to BD1,007,288, while tourist coming into the Kingdom of Bahrain through the UAE representative office amounted to 2,133 and their spending a sum of BD874,663.

There has been progress in the inbound tourism indicators in the Kingdom of Bahrain during 2015-2018 as well. In 2015, inbound visitors reached 9.7 million, this number increased to 12 million at the end of 2018, with an annual growth rate of 7.6 per cent and a change rate of 24.6 per cent. Simultaneously, the number of tourist nights in Bahrain increased from 9 million in 2015 to 12.8 million in 2018, with an annual growth rate of 12.6 per cent and a change rate of 42.7 per cent. Tourism receipts similarly have risen from BD1.063 billion in 2015 to BD1.442 billion at the end of 2018, with an average growth rate of 10.7 per cent and a change rate of 35.7 per cent.

The Kingdom of Bahrain is improving its logistical infrastructure and revamping its access points for foreign visitors including the modernisation programme for the Bahrain International Airport, which has resulted in increasing the capacity to 14 million visitors annually and this has also led to improving the ports facilities for yachts.

With regards to the cruise segment, in 2018/2019, the Kingdom received 39 ships carrying 60,000 passengers. In 2020, the BTEA will continue to focus on this segment by participating in international cruise events aims to promote the Kingdom of Bahrain as a destination for tourist vessels in line with its long-term tourism strategy. A key integral component of the strategy is to develop the seaports in the Kingdom in order to attract a larger number of yachts and cruise ships. During the upcoming cruise season, which runs between November and May, Bahrain will be receiving 65 cruise ships carrying a total of 90,000 passengers and expect to receive more cruise vessel calls including The Royal Caribbean.

Bahrain will also be witnessing the launch of several international hotel chains and apartments including Harbour Row Hotel and Residences and Mama Shelter by 2020/2021.

With its ideal location in the heart of the gulf, the Kingdom of Bahrain has always had a reputation for being one of the most welcoming countries in the gulf, with its people renowned for their openness, warmth and hospitality. The island is very ethnically diverse and a melting point of culture, and is known for its rich history of welcoming visitors from all over traveling to experience the islands beaches, historical attractions from past civilisations, or cosmopolitan variety of restaurants, cafes and shopping malls.