Brand Bahrain in global push to celebrate Manama, Gulf Capital of Tourism 2016

Published January 31st, 2016 - 03:28 GMT
Bahrain has signed an agreement with China that will facilitate tour operators to send large groups to Bahrain this year. (File photo)
Bahrain has signed an agreement with China that will facilitate tour operators to send large groups to Bahrain this year. (File photo)

A national project to promote Bahrain as a top tourist destination will be launched soon. Brand Bahrain is an international campaign to promote the country’s heritage, culture, business friendly environment and artistic image.

It is being spearheaded by the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) which will launch the project’s logo and objectives in the coming months. It will have a distinctive visual identity that captivates audiences globally and strengthens Bahrain’s position as a top tourist destination, said BTEA acting chief executive Shaikh Khalid bin Humood Al Khalifa.

“We are working with the Economic Development Board to launch the Brand Bahrain initiative that aims to promote the country across the globe,” he told the GDN. “We are also working with a creative agency in the UK called M&C Saatchi to work on the project.

“The first phase is over and the soft launch will be held during the Bahrain Formula One to be held in April. “Work on this project started last year and will share Bahrain’s stories, messages from people and the identity of our country to the global community.”

Meanwhile, Shaikh Khalid said a huge influx of Chinese visitors are expected this year as part of a plan approved by both countries. With visa on arrival already provided to Chinese nationals, officials are now urging the hospitality sector to gear up to welcome the visitors.

“We signed an agreement with Chinese authorities that will result in more approved tour operators from China sending large groups of travellers in the coming months,” he explained. “This agreement includes Bahrain as a top tourist destination for the Chinese by developing co-operation between travel agencies in both countries to facilitate the flow of tourists from the two countries.” Industry experts say China’s outbound travellers are still growing and was poised to double by 2020 to 234 million passengers with overseas spending expected to reach $422 billion.

“We are not only looking at the regional but also the international market,” added Shaikh Khalid. “Today, Chinese tourists are the number one spenders and all this expenditure generates revenues for the economy. “Bahrain offers visa on arrival facility and we will see in coming months Chinese destination management companies sending more groups of tourists.”

Shaikh Khalid was speaking to the GDN on the sidelines of a meeting organised by Skal International Bahrain in which he outlined plans to boost the country’s tourism sector. He referred to this year’s calendar of events as part of year-long celebrations marking Manama Gulf Capital of Tourism 2016, which include Disney Live! that will make its debut in Bahrain on March 15 at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre.

Other events include the Bahrain Food Festival, which starts from February 23 until March 1, at Block 338 in Adliya and the 11th Spring of Culture event. A Handicraft Festival in Bab Al Bahrain will be held from April 1 to April 8, an Annual Heritage Festival will take place on April 24 at Arad Fort and the Bahrain Light Festival in Manama will be held from May 5 to May 9.

Other attractions this year will include the Bahrain Comedy Show, which will be held in various locations from May 6 to May 13, the Lego Bahrain event in August, the Bahrain Sea Festival – Dhow parade and sea exhibition from October 6 to October 15, and the Bahrain International Motorshow at the Bahrain International Circuit in December. 

“In January, we successfully hosted the Bahrain International Air Show, Shop Bahrain and the Bahrain Gaming Experience that were well received,” added Shaikh Khalid. “Last year, Saudis spent around $7bn in tourism abroad and we are keen to benefit by hosting these events, especially when 59 per cent of our visitors come from Saudi Arabia.”

Shaikh Khalid also revealed plans of allocating a plot of land in Sakhir to construct a new exhibition centre. “The new exhibition centre in Sakhir will host events and offer state-of-the-art meeting and exhibition facilities that will attract more tourists, who will attend these meetings and stay in hotels and use transport and other services in Bahrain,” he said. 

Figures released by Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Al Zayani early last year showed that tourism revenues reached BD288m in 2014, when more than 10m people visited Bahrain – including 6.6m GCC visitors. The total contribution of travel and tourism to Bahrain’s GDP is forecast to increase from $3.97 billion in 2011 to $6.16bn by 2021, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. 

By Sandeep Singh Grewal


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