Bahrain is targeting to increase tourist footfalls from India beyond the 2019 levels and has stepped up marketing and promotion efforts to achieve this target, a senior official of Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority has said.
“India is an important market for us and this year we are targeting to increase the tourist footfalls from the country beyond the 2019 levels that are the pre-Covid levels,” Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority chief executive officer Nasser Ali Qaedi told PTI here.
Qaedi further said that “to achieve this target we are capitalising on more marketing and promotion efforts with our local partners. Recently we signed over 100 tour operator agreements across the globe, of which 2 dozens were from India.” During 2019, pre-Covid period, Bahrain had hosted over 12.66 lakh Indian visitors that included both tourists as well as business travellers.
He said Bahrain is also in high-level discussions with authorities concerned to enhance connectivity with India and increase the number of flights between both the countries.
Further, he said that Bahrain is focused on two sectors in India to increase tourist footfalls like leisure and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events or Exhibitions (MICE).
“We are promoting Bahrain as a ’boutiq island destination’ with our island setting and trying to bring in the premium travellers especially families, couples, experiential travel across all age groups. We are also targeting the MICE segment and destinations related themes like weddings, international sporting events and so on,” he added.
Being an island, Bahrain also offers waterfront tourism, maritime and other experiences, like deep sea diving, serene beaches, he said.
“Last year we hosted the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) world cup, world dart championship and sailing event. We are also building state-of-art infrastructure to host more and more global sporting events,” he added.
Overall, Qaedi said, Bahrain is on track with recovery in the tourism sector with a steady growth in international visitors.
“In 2019, Bahrain received 11 million international visitors, in 2021 there were 3.6 million and by the end of 2022, we hosted over 9.9 million travellers,” he said.
Saudi Arabia followed by other Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC), including Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are Bahrain’s top source markets, he noted.
India and the European Union are also among the top five source markets for Bahrain in terms of tourist footfalls, he added.
“We are at 92 per cent recovery rate from pre-Corona levels, this is the highest in the world and highest in the region. The global average is about 60-65 per cent, so Bahrain is doing very well in tourism.
“At the same time we have projected to generate 1 billion Bahrain dinar in tourism revenues in 2022 and this is equivalent to our pre-Covid numbers in 2019,” he stated.
Meanwhile, talking about hotel capacity in the country, Qaedi said Bahrain is also expanding the number of hotel rooms from the current 22,000 keys.
“Our infrastructure is growing in parallel with our accommodation capacity which is also growing in parallel with the amount of events and activities taking place in the country. This year we will add 15 new hotels in order to meet the demand,” he added.