Island getaway focus for tourism
Tourism in Bahrain has witnessed one of its most challenging years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus. However, with a viable vaccine on the horizon, travel restrictions worldwide being relaxed and the causeway set to open next year, the tourism sector could see a bounce back in 2021, with experts anticipating a full rebound by 2024.To find out more about what measures the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) has in place to help the sector rebound, TTN’s sister publication and Bahrain’s largest daily, the GDN, interviewed Dr Nasser Ali Yousef, who was appointed to lead the organisation in October. “Bahrain has always been considered an island getaway ideal for families as it is the only island nation in the Middle East. Known for its warm and hospitable people, Bahrain has earned its reputation as a thriving multicultural hub with three Unesco World Heritage sites," he said. “Bahrain also offers an abundance of iconic attractions and historical landmarks, museums, entertainment facilities, and shopping experiences. It has been recognised for its culture, providing visitors with a glimpse of the history of the region and the Dilmun civilisation. “The kingdom also boasts an abundance of public and private beaches as well as other unique experiences including the pearl diving experience and Dive Bahrain, the largest underwater theme park. Whether tourists are looking for a quick break or a long holiday; there is plenty to do and see on the island.” The global economy, and especially the tourism sector, have been affected greatly from the outbreak. In response, several efforts from the government, including financial support and exemptions have been extended to the private sector. BTEA has launched several campaigns regionally to excite tourists to come back to Bahrain and experience a ‘New Bahrain’, he said in the interview. “We have promoted several attractions that are usually not visited by regional visitors, focusing on the link between Bahrain and the Gulf and encouraging them to experience the Kingdom while taking safety measures once borders are open. “On the international front, there are several collaborations with our national carrier Gulf Air, with the cooperation of local travel partners, to offer the best available packages to promote Bahrain to international markets.” BTEA has multiple projects that target waterfronts and beaches to develop as part of its 2020-2022 strategy in different locations. In the MICE industry, the new exhibitions and conventions centre located in Sakhir is set to be the largest in the region and will be completed during 2022. “We are planning to promote BTEA’s new Expo City, through the MICE exhibitions that will be held in late 2021 to explore major events and conferences for the near future. “In addition, there are several MICE groups which have rescheduled their trips to Bahrain from 2020 to 2021. “We also have several high-profile destination weddings and occasions planned for 2021, which will showcase Bahrain as an island wedding destination in several markets. Of course, all events will be held under the safety measures and the national task force protocols at the time,” he says.