Bahrain’s hotel and restaurant sector witnessed robust growth at a rate of 3%, the latest Bahrain Economic Quarterly (BEQ) report by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) revealed. This was underpinned by plans to establish 15 new five and four-star hotels and beachfront resorts, with a collective investment value of more than $10 billion over the next five years.
The list includes world-renowned hotel brands including The One&Only Resort, Wyndham Grand Hotel, Fairmont, Vida Hotel & Resort, The Address Hotel & Resort, Ibis Hotel and Pullman Hotel.
These hotels will add to the Kingdom’s existing portfolio of over 190 hotels and resorts.
This includes 18 five star hotels, 48 four-star hotels, 35 three star hotels, 81 serviced apartments and 11 resorts. These hotels currently offer a capacity of more than 16,500 rooms, with big names such as the recently opened Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, ART Rotana Amwaj Islands Hotel & Resort, Downtown Rotana, the Westin and Le Meridian Hotel Bahrain City Centre.
In order to continue to attract new visitors and support demand, Bahrain unveiled its brand-new tourism identity: ‘Ours. Yours. Bahrain’ as part of Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority’s (BTEA) commitment towards reinvigorating the Kingdom’s tourism industry.
The campaign’s strategic and infrastructural initiatives aim to boost the country's tourism industry to US$1 billion by 2020, effectively doubling tourism’s contribution to Bahrain’s GDP from 3.6% to 6.6%.
BTEA also established six international offices to help drive development and raise awareness of Bahrain’s tourism in key global markets such as: UK, France, India, Germany and Russia.
Stressing the importance of the Kingdom's developments in the tourism and hospitality sectors, Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive at the Bahrain EDB, said: “These future investments in the hospitality sector will bring several new international hotel chains to the Kingdom and raise the profile of existing ones. It is expected to increase hotel capacity by around 4,000 hotel rooms in the country by 2020 and fill the gaps in the market, especially in the mid-market and luxury sector – for example, in the development of all-inclusive premium resorts.
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“These new developments will both help to meet rising demand and attract new visitors to the Kingdom. Bahrain showed strong growth in tourist numbers in 2016, witnessing a 6% increase in the number of tourist arrivals, receiving 12.2 million. Bahrain is a regional hub for tourism, with over 300 million people within two hours flight, of which the majority are regional visitors traveling from within the GCC. Indeed, Saudi tourists accounted for approximately 8 million tourists, around 70% of all visitors to the Kingdom.”
The tourism sector is an essential pillar of the Kingdom’s economy. Bahrain views the sector as a key area of growth, and has been focusing its efforts towards its development alongside financial services, manufacturing, ICT, transportation and logistics.
As a result of strong fundamentals and new investment the sector is expected to continue to grow. In 2015, the tourism sector accounted for 6% of the total GDP and contributed revenues of $1.9 billion to the Kingdom’s economy. The Kingdom’s tourism market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.8%, reaching $1 billion by 2020. In 2014, Bahrain’s tourism sector was the highest direct contributor to GDP of any economy in the Gulf.
The Kingdom has a strong pipeline of infrastructure projects worth over $32 billion, some directly supporting the tourism sector. They include a second causeway linking Bahrain and Saudi Arabia which will connect the two countries by road and by the proposed GCC rail network, in addition to the $1.1 billion Bahrain International Airport modernization program, which on completion will increase the airport’s capacity by 65% to receive up to 14 million passengers per year.
Alongside the expansion and modernization of Bahrain International Airport, Gulf Air – Bahrain’s national carrier – announced on the sidelines of the 2016 Bahrain International Airshow that it will expand its aircraft fleet with an order valued at $7.6 billion consisting of 16 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, 17 Airbus A321neo and 12 Airbus A320neo aircraft.
Cruise-ship holidaymakers are also a target for the Kingdom, and Bahrain has received over 90,000 passengers in the 2016/2017 GCC cruise season.
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